The market is up.
The market is down.
What is the real state of the economy?
Everybody has a different opinion, and the answer is probably a blend of many different opinions.
In any event, the negative reports have been numerous enough to be a sign that you, as a business owner or manager, would do well to prepare your company to weather economic ups and downs.
10 Tips to Help Your Business Thrive in a Shaky Economy
Here, from the Better Business Bureau, are some steps you can take:
1. Review Growth Plans for Next Year(s)
Either adjust them or pat yourself on the back for making accurate estimates of future earnings in your industry.
Ask yourself if this is the right time to expand your operation and hire additional people, or if you’re better off simply trying to increase the volume of business you get from existing customers.
2. Stay in Command of Your Sales Effort
Make sales strategies a top priority, and stay in the know about what’s working and what isn’t.
Dust off some products or services that generally have a good market in a slow economy.
3. Watch Cash Flow
When times get tight, customers may balk at paying up promptly.
That means you need to get smart about collecting the money you are owed.
Most small businesses are considered unsecured creditors, which means your collection options are limited, especially if a customer declares bankruptcy.
4. Focus on keeping employees.
When times get tight, there are fewer offers to entice valued employees away; but at the same time, your key people become even more valuable to you in generating revenue and guiding your business through possible turbulent times.
Also, be sure to cross-train employees as much as possible.
5. Focus on Keeping Customers
During slowdowns, your clients also may be feeling the pinch and may consider switching for a better price or service.
Even in the best of times, customer loyalty is generally a thing of the past — so review your procedures and techniques for becoming as customer-focused and responsive as you can possibly be.
Now is not the time to eliminate customer service and expect to survive.
6. Make Smart Pricing Decisions
Prices may decline for some of the goods and services you purchase for your own business.
Don’t be afraid to buy now at a good price, which will result in savings you may be able to bank. Health-care costs, utility costs and leases probably will increase.
Do comparison shopping when possible, but don’t shop on price alone. Reputation, length of time in business and the company’s customer service reputation are still vitally important.
Valued key employees can help you make these tough choices.
7. Keep Inventories Lean
If you anticipate falling sales, don’t overstock your shelves.
On the other hand, don’t keep your shelves so bare that you have nothing to sell. That philosophy is simply a plan for failure.
8. Check suppliers for solvency and reliability.
Be alert to any financial crisis a vendor of yours may be having.
Nurture healthy, long-term relationships with companies that are financially sound and respect you as a customer of theirs.
9. Check Out E-sourcing and E-billing
Just because you’ve always hand written your bills doesn’t mean there aren’t better ways. If you have not yet entered the age of technology, hire someone who has. It will be well worth it.
10. Avoid Guessing Games and Forlorn Expectations
The good news is that basically, this country is in good shape.
Being conservative and cautious is one thing; worrying about the economy two years out is another. Don’t focus too much on the lows or you may miss the opportunity of some strong highs.
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