The ratio of perceived value to dollars paid in every aspect of the world of business has changed. Consumers and vendors alike are looking for extreme value for every dollar they spend on a product or service. You see this challenge everywhere, with the huge discounts offered and even free giveaways to entice you into dealing with their company. This trend is dangerous, yet it cannot be ignored. In a time when the older generation wants to relax and the younger — perhaps spoiled — generation expects more for less effort at work, the opposite has occurred.

To professional services firms, large chain stores and commodity retailers, attempting to survive this onslaught has become perilous at best. With margins shrinking and costs rising, many small business owners see a perfect storm approaching. What should you do?

For some, the answer is unclear. Do you attempt to supply your customers and clients with much more perceived value than you did in 2008 for the same or less cost? Can you financially and, more important, emotionally handle this new reality? Is this unfamiliar situation making your business plan obsolete?

The answers to these questions need to be individually addressed but not ignored. Unfortunately, there is no longer a simple, golden-parachute time to rest or play. Instead, you must reconnect with your chosen profession, compete for the business of your past customers and fight – fight – fight. Welcome to 2012!

Engaging with a business coach is more important than ever. Such a consultant has the unique insight that comes from working with many different industries and businesses. These associations and insights will help you reformulate your plans, re-ignite passion and focus you and your company on results. Sleepwalking through your days in denial of these new changes is not viable option. In the unenviable event that the only solution is to close your company and start over, it is better to face the inevitable than to waste valuable time. Take action today!