Today’s uncertain economy is enough to make a small company owner’s hair fall out, bowl over from a stomach ulcer or scuff up a rash that could cause customers to consider another place for service or product. The good news is that we know the economy will turn around, in time. Your job is to function smarter and keep your business moving forward till then. That means taking a hard look at the business of your business.
As small business people we are good at what we do and make. Problems arise when we pay too much attention to our product or service but not enough to managing the business alone. Granted that is the part that usually mirrors a dreaded “ugh, ” but it is also the part that can mean the difference between success and failure. Focusing on your financials, the people which make your business possible, and your vision will help ensure your survival in today’s economy and beyond.
Re-Mind Your Business
Cash in or Cash Out I am sure you might have heard this a thousand times, however it still needs saying. “Cash is definitely king. ” A business is more very likely to survive in a good or bad economy along with good cash flow than with income. One does not necessarily mean the other. Small businesses proprietors usually have problems with cash flow no matter the economy. To improve cash flow do a cost analysis of your business. Look at locations where you can save money such as bank and credit card charges; negotiate with creditors for longer payment arrangements. Barter regarding services or products with suppliers. If you offer credit to your customers, cut this down or out and be more aggressive with collections. Consider outsourcing services instead of hiring another employee. There are many freelancers that are experts within specific areas such as accounting and bookkeeping, website design and operations plus marketing and public relations that can cost less than an employee, benefits included. Be creative in reducing the cost of your day-to-day operations without sacrificing the quality of your service or product.
If you do large jobs, ask for the payment plan that includes a deposit. If you undertake large contracts such as janitorial providers for major corporations, invoice earlier and ask for early payment or offer your customers a discount when they pay the invoice within a specific time frame. In a poor economy, large corporations are looking for ways to save money as well.
If you need help with your cost evaluation or cash flow projections, ask for this.
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While cutting expenses is most important, cutting back on marketing, advertising and public relations during a poor economy is a big mistake. Marketing and advertising are what gain you new company. When times are hardest is the time you want to shine even better than before. If you do not let your clients know you are still on board, they might forget about you when the good times resurface. And they will resurface.
Develop a no cost advertising plan that includes building media associations so you can submit byline articles relevant to your industry. Appear on local gain access to television as an expert in your field. Join in professional, community and industry networking events. Develop a customer management program that includes regular contact with clients about subject unrelated to your company as well.
Apply for small business awards and contests by corporations, professional organizations, and government. This recognition will get you attention by your customers in addition to potential customers that may not know a person exist. Winning an award usually gets you requests from other mass media who want to publish your story. Additionally, it builds your credibility.
Nurture Your own People
Employees It may be that with out your employees you would not have a business. During this economic slowdown, communicate with your own employees. Now more than ever it is important to end up being transparent, ask for their ideas to get improvement. Motivating employees is challenging when they are feeling shaky regarding whether they will keep their jobs. The very best motivator is to provide them the opportunity to offer suggestion on how to serve the very best interest of everyone in the company on the long-haul. They may be willing to take a pay cut or have ideas about cutting back on expenses you did not think about. Go the extra step and provide praise permanently work or ideas that work. They are your most precious resource. It will always be less costly to keep current employees than searching for qualified employees that you have to train when the economy improves.
Customers Maintaining your existing customers by providing exceptional customer service is good practice anytime. During today’s economy it is critical. It is easier to keep existing customers than to discover new ones. Talk to your customers. Find out what they need, how they are doing financially, what their expectations are for future years, so you are on your game when the economy improves and your customers start investing more.
Suppliers Supplier loyalty could be valuable when you need extra time to catch up on your account payables. Depending on your business, you may land a new account and need supplies to launch the account until your first month of receivables is due which could be 60 – 90 days out. A good relationship together with your supplier could mean your payables receive the same time consideration. Believe creatively when making deals to grow your business with the help of your suppliers. The more development your business experiences, the more business your own supplier could expect.
Focus on the near future
Business Plan Review and revise your business plan. As your business increases and your industry changes it is necessary to keep your business plan relevant. A well-thought out business plan that includes your own cost analysis, new marketing program and employee and customer administration programs is critical to a quick and successful recovery. It can ensure the long run viability of your business.
Carrie They would Johnson is founder of 3 businesses including a cleaning service she started with no money and grew to a multimillion dollar contract-cleaning company that supported 165 employees. During her 17 years as President of this company she received several business and community honours.
She is the author of the book “From the Pits to the Palace: One particular Woman’s Journey to Self-Realization by means of Entrepreneurship” released in March yr and available on Amazon and bbotw. com (Buy Books on the Web). She also is a journalist and has written for several newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the Metrowest Daily News.
Master of science. Johnson is a small business adviser specializing in business planning, public relations and marketing and advertising planning. She works closely using the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower women to be financially self-sufficient and prosperous through entrepreneurship.