Building a Business in a Competitive Market

Have you ever wondered how some businesses are so successful while others fail? Every night on the news we hear about more and more businesses closing and the impact that those failing companies have on the unemployment rate. Being a solo entrepreneur, it is up to me whether my business is successful. How can I make sure that my company continues to thrive?

“Why climb the corporate ladder when you can build an elevator in your own building?”  Joshua E. Leyenhorst

It has been seven years since we created Gardner Promotional Solutions. My husband and I honestly had no idea what we were doing when we started this venture. We read books about small businesses, listened to webinars that were pertinent to our industry, attended trade shows and educational classes and prayed. The most important thing we did was to surround ourselves with like-minded business owners.

This week, I would like to talk about building a business.  As a small business owner, we spend so much time working in our business that we do not spend enough time working on it. Personally, I am setting a 90-day goal and making an effort to get back to the basics and change the way I’ve been doing things the last few months.

How do I plan to make these changes?


I think that networking is a good thing. Meeting like-minded business owners is a great way to build a business. But, how much is too much? It is easy to attend meeting after meeting and talk about finding our perfect client, but what are we doing to meet that target market? Are the meetings we are attending productive and meaningful or are they simply a “social hour?”  I plan to limit the hours a week I spend sitting in networking meetings and use that time more efficiently.

Continuing Education

I believe a good business owner must take the time to stay up to date in their industry by participating in continuing education classes, reading books and participating in webinars. The world is constantly changing and it is important for our clients to know that we are educated and well-informed about the latest industry news. I am fortunate that the promotional products industry offers easily accessible continuing education opportunities available year around. I plan to spend 1-3 hours a week gaining more knowledge about my industry.

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Peter F. Drucker

Time Blocking

I find myself telling others how busy I am. There is a big difference between “being busy” and “being productive.” I need to get back to working my schedule and not having my schedule work me. Time-blocking offers a great way to stay on focused on what is important during my day – meeting with clients, reaching out to potential clients, thanking my existing client base and securing business with new contacts.  I also will designate a specific time each week to schedule my social media posts so I do not sit down at my computer and “get lost” for hours at a time.  I feel that the most important thing about time-blocking a schedule is that it teaches structure and discipline, two important aspects of being a successful business owner.

Keeping in Touch with My Clients

It is easy to take our clients for granted. How often do we call on them? How do we know that they are faithful to us and will not be tempted to use our competitors? When was the last time we thanked our clients for working with us?  I publish a monthly newsletter, send thank you notes and occasionally schedule a breakfast or lunch with my clients. I plan to become more active with my clients and remind them how much they matter to me. I’ve always prided myself on my customer service. I need to get back to scheduling time to keep in touch with my clients by dropping off information, samples, and treats on a regular basis.

My challenge for you this week is the following?

Take a few moments and think about your clients. When was the last time you met with them face to face? Are you good about sending thank you notes, articles that may interest them, or a sample of a new product? Do they know that their business with you is appreciated?

Now, look at your schedule. Are you productive or simply “busy?” Do you attend so many networking events that you don’t have time to follow up on potential leads? Be choosy about what meetings you attend and make the most out of them.

How many hours per week do you spend on social media? I feel that social media is an important part of marketing, but it can be a time waster as well. Set a timer and create all of your posts for a week during that time. You will be amazed at the time you are able to devote to other projects.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  Steve Jobs

I agree with Steve Jobs. It is important to love what you do. Create the life you have always dreamed of having, and at the end of each week, take a moment to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work. Make the changes necessary to become successful.

Have a blessed week!


I am the owner of Gardner Promotional Solutions and offer over 1 million different promotional products. I also have an entire wedding line and love sitting with couples to plan their perfect day. Visit my website to see the latest in the promotional industry or contact me and we can sit down and plan your next branding campaign!


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