From the July 2009 issue of Entrepreneur

When business slows, entrepreneurs often take off their marketer's hat and put on their accountant's hat. My rich dad often said, "The problem with accountants running a business is that they forget where their paychecks come from."

That was my rich dad's way of saying, "Our paychecks come from our customers." For years, I have been encouraging readers to keep promoting rather than cutting back--especially in a tough economy. In other words, when putting on your marketer's hat, keep talking to your customers; don't hide from them.
 

Great Business Transformation

iPod: Firmly planted Apple in the music distribution business

Tupperware: Gave an extra "burp" to food storage (and direct selling)

Prius: Its mass appeal made Toyota's competitors green with envy

Scotch Tape: Made 3M the clear choice for everyday adhesives

Keds Sneakers: Turned U.S. Rubber into a footwear trendsetter (in 1916)

Recently, the Rich Dad Company has hired more people for our marketing department and increased spending on PR, advertising and promoting. I am happy to say that our income is increasing, which is covering our overhead and marketing expenses.

On top of increasing our marketing efforts and resources, we have been redesigning our business. We started this process by redefining our customer and then redesigning the business to better serve and reach this newly defined customer. It has not been easy. It has been much more expensive than simply hiring more people and buying more advertising. Buying advertising is easy. Redesigning a company is hard.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Let's say I have a Ford Model T. Simply spending money on new paint, new tires and high-octane gas will not turn the Model T into an Indy car. The Model T may need to be melted down and reborn as a race car. This is what The Rich Dad Company has been doing for the past two years. If we �hadn't melted down the company, we wouldn't be keeping up with our customers. Simply spending more on advertising would not have helped.

Unlike an old car, melting down our business is not a �physical process, but a mental one. Before we could upgrade our thinking, we had to melt down old ideas and old ways of doing things. Melting down an old car is a lot easier than melting down an old business and old thinking.

As a young Marine Corps officer, the following mantra was drilled into my head: "There are no bad soldiers. There are only bad officers." Reminded of this mantra, I realized that if my company was to change, first, I had to change. So the melting down began with me. There were three evaluations that I, personally, had to go through as I asked my company to change. They were:

  1. What am I afraid of doing?
  2. What am I not saying?
  3. What can I do to better serve my customer?

On weekends, I would sit and write down my thoughts to these questions. Sometimes I got through the process in less than half an hour. Sometimes I was engaged in these questions all day or longer. The good news is, over time, I slowly found my actions in the company changing. And once I began to change, the company changed.

Robert Kiyosaki , author of the Rich Dad series of books, is an investor, entrepreneur and educator whose perspectives have challenged and changed the way people think about money and investing.