The National Federation of Independent Business says that American small business is the world's second largest economy, trailing only the United States as a whole. That's pretty remarkable. These businesses represent 80% of employment in inner cities, and they're now threatened by our global economy.

As a solopreneur, you don't employ large numbers, but think about the people that your business does touch. Obviously what you do is important to many, so your reasons for wanting to preserve your company during this down economy reach far beyond putting food on the table. To do this, you may have to step outside of the marketing strategies that have worked for you in the past. Perhaps it's even time to change your identity a little bit and expand on your product and service offerings. In what unique ways have you stretched your thinking to help your company stand out as an innovator in your industry?

I asked a few entrepreneurs about the steps they've taken to preserve, or beef up, their bottom line. These are questions that you might ponder as well:

- How have you changed or increased your marketing strategies?
- Have you diversified by increasing your services or product line with related products, services, or other add ons?
- Have you changed or enhanced your customer service policies?
- What have you done to claim your unique niche in the industry?

Here is what these business owners/managers have done:

Marc Ellison of Power Motor Sports in Illinois says that his company is working hard to tout the skills of one of their employees, who Marc believes is one of the most gifted mechanics in the country and a valuable asset to the company. Rob Brown is a former professional racer and represents the company at races around the area to draw business from more distant market places.

Power Motor Sports has also added a popular new bike to their already robust line of elite motorcycles. In addition, they have increased their advertising with postcard campaigns and Internet marketing strategies, including a monthly newsletter. Marc's company has advertised aggressively to promote the company's unique strengths.

Deb DiSandro is a "Slightly Off" humorist and health and wellness speaker, specializing in uplifting and energizing individuals and organizations toward positive change. Goodness knows, a strong infusion of humor and positive change is a boost that could help many companies to survive today's economy. Deb has increased business in spite of the shrinking budget of her target market's industry. Here's what she has discovered:

Deb has had wonderful conversations with prospective customers and learned more about their needs by implementing "the old cold call" strategy. In addition to enjoyable conversations, daily cold calling has really increased her business.
She's also committed to taking a few more lower-paying jobs than she has in the past. This has kept her connected to audiences and increased referrals, which lead to full-fee business.
Deb recommends getting out there to make personal contacts and doing something special for your existing customers. She's demonstrated that a more personal approach will increase marketing success.

Amy Lawrence owns

Jennifer Benjamin owns Family First Homecare in New Jersey. Jennifer has really boosted her Internet presence through search engine optimization and a minor redesign of her site. She too has increased email and ezine campaigns and has seen a steady flow of new business as a result. Jennifer stresses her focus on referral sources and recognizes them by showcasing their businesses in her newsletters. Her point is well taken, it's important to express appreciation for the confidence and trust that your referral resources have in you and marketing to them is a powerful way to increase business. Family First has cut back in some areas, including more expensive advertising venues that weren't producing. By going back to some good old guerrilla marketing techniques Jennifer has kept her business thriving.

Carrie Partello owns the East Coast Moving Company in North Carolina and has also gone back to some grass roots marketing strategies. She's joined a BNI chapter and enjoys building relationships by adhering to their "Givers Gain" motto and enjoying the reciprocity and connectivity offered by those relationships. Carrie stresses the importance of acknowledging her customers with a hand-written thank you note and asking for family and friends referrals. Never hesitate to ask! She has also used email campaigns to tap into one of her more valuable resources, former clients, for family and friends referrals.

Carrie keeps her attitude positive and supports peers and community. It not only feels good, but also pays off in the long run.

Summing it up: pump up your email and ezine campaigns, boost internet presence, show customer appreciation, reach out to former clients/customers, pick up the phone, tap into referral resources and business partnerships, go out of your way to help others and build relationships, and keep your attitude positive and remain forward-thinking.

What have you done differently? How has it helped? Share your Million Dollar Mindset here!