Great article from Doug Hall, in the August/September issue of Business Week Small Biz called Marginal Success It focuses on a topic that I find small business owners seem to ignore.
They are very focused on what their prices should be, but not so much on what their real return is. If you're not increasing profit margins, then you can't really grow.
Hall gives five solutions of which I picked my top three:
1. Fire your customers-- 20% of customers with the least profitability won't be missed. Spend that time focusing on marketing and sales and you'll be surprised by the boost you get.
2. Go for 'mailbox money'--He calls it 'mailbox money', you may have heard it called 'passive revenue streams.' It's money that is generated while you are off doing other things. No matter what your category is, you should be working on items that are selling when you aren't.
3. Set yourself apart—I'm sure you've heard this ad naseum. Find your 'unique selling proposition,' etc. In this case I see it as a call to FOCUS—not selling something for everyone, but something that caters to a specific niche and builds your community. It's much easier to be an expert if your field is small and well-defined.
If you focus on these first, you should see your profit margins rising and your business in growth mode.