Times are hard at the moment, aren't they? I read on here and hear about salons going under, having to let staff go, and sole traders having to find alternative work. I thought I would pass on a few tips on how to stay afloat in these straitened circumstances. Why the weird title? I heard about a book with this title which happens to be about the British Olympic rowing team which, up until the Sydney Olympics hadn't really done very well. So, they decided that they would have a complete rethink about it all, to see if it would make a positive difference. They decided that would do absolutely nothing unless they asked the question, "will it make the boat go faster?" How on earth could this relate to our industries? It takes just a little leap of the imagination, but here are some examples of how we're applying this mantra to both our businesses, the salon business and the distribution one. I get all excited when S2 release new things, and I HAVE to have them all! Will it make the boat go faster? Um, probably not...will my particular client base care if I have the blue additive, when it's hard enough to get them to even try Rockstar toes?! We need to do a spot of hunting for new trade customers for the distribution business, and we need to get on with it. Now, if we spend £50 we can get 5000 envelopes, but if we spend a tenner we can get 500. So, it makes economic sense to buy 5000, doesn't it? Or does it? We don't have the space to store 5000 envelopes, and we don't have the capacity to deal with the potential response we might get, we couldn't afford the postage or the manpower to send out 5000 all at once. So, will buying 5000 envelopes make the boat go faster? At the moment it won't; that £40 would be better spent on the stamps, and then seeing just how much response we get from that particular mail shot. In my salon I have 4 wax heaters (I know!). Electricity costs continue to rise inexorably and I need to keep my costs down. Maplins had an offer on for digital timers at 9 quid a throw. Do I spend 9 quid on one, and a fiver on an extension lead? Will it make the boat go faster? You betcha! Spending £14 will save me lots of money in electricity by having my heaters set to switch on first thing in the morning and off again at night, and they're set not to come on at all on a Sunday. No more accidentally leaving them on at night. I got an email shot about a fire risk assessment in the salon. It would cost £50. Hmmm, will it make the boat go faster? I rang our insurance company and it would seem that we would get a discount amounting to £72 if we had a valid fire risk assessment certificate in place. So I'll save £22. Bonus! Not to mention the peace of mind that the salon won't spontaneously combust! As you know we distribute 4 international brands. I'm willing to bet that most of you won't have heard of all of them! It's the professional beauty show in February. Should we exhibit? We'd need a stand, stock, samples, staff, hotels, etc etc etc. it'll likely cost about £10k when all said and done - eek! Will it make the boat go faster? We think it will; where else will we have a 33k strong captive, interested audience?! We don't need very many new customers to break even - lots of our existing customers spend that over a year! I'd love to hear about what you've done to make your boat go faster; or why not post up an idea and we'll all pitch in with our ideas about whether it will or not. Over to you!