Innovation is vital during hard times

Continuing to do the same old things and expecting new results is not a winning proposition, whether we are discussing a small business, a large corporation, or the nation as a whole. This even applies to those who work for others in a well-defined job.

In good times or bad, there is a basic rule that will make running your business or your life much easier:

In order to keep earning income, we have to come up with compelling reasons that our services will make someone else's life easier.

Figuring this out and communicating it effectively are skills that can be learned.

During an economic downturn, doing this will make your own life much easier.

When there is not enough money for business as usual, buyers and employers alike start looking for ways to bring costs in line with income. Every expense gets scrutinized to see how it contributes to survival.

A business needs to adapt products and services to changes in customer needs if it is going to survive. A small business can do this more easily than a large corporation.

I saw a good example of this at the Bell Gallery and Garden in Floyd Virginia. This family-run gallery offers a wide range of unique gift items: sculpture, jewelry, fine art and photography. Without sacrificing quality, they have recently introduced smaller versions of expensive photographs that can be purchased for much less money. They have other low cost offerings to complement many of their high end items.

I am finding a similar solution in my own business, Floyd Custom Framing. My customers still want to give framed art as gifts this year, but they need to do it with a smaller budget than usual. Rather than ordering less expensive mouldings for them, I suggest that we find and recycle elegant frames by resizing and refinishing them to complement their artwork. The end results are quite spectacular and the savings delight customers who want art on a tight budget.

It turns out that there are many people in this area who have unframed prints and even originals tucked away and at the same time have old picture frames which they no longer use. With a little artistic recycling, we are able to create stunning effects in an affordable way.

Since I'm seeing a growing demand for recycled picture frames, I keep my eye out for opportunities to acquire overstocks and elegant frames that can be recycled. In the process, I am learning new techniques for refinishing frames. My services are expanding because of these changing customer requirements.

Making life easier for customers is good business.

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