Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Economy: DON'T PANIC!!!

Some Food for Thought on What Small Business Owners
Can do to Survive the Economic Downturn

Whether government officials want to believe it or not, we ARE in a recession. Gas prices up; real estate down, food prices up; retail numbers down. While large organizations have the resources, cash and people to ride out an economy that could get even worse over the next 12 months, it is the small business person who is taking a beating and may or may not make it.

Years of work, long hours and customer service could vanish. It's already happened to tens of thousands of companies around the United States.

But you don't have to be a victim. You can keep your business, ride out the financial storm and not only come out alive but even stronger than before. Here are a few suggestions you should take seriously

*Don't Overreact
When things are good, they're not necessarily as good as you think. When things are bad, they're not necessarily as bad as you think.
*Just because it's been slow for a few months, or you think it might slow down soon, don't start making wild decisions or cuts. Keep a steady head about what's really going on. Look past the wild swings in revenue (and enthusiasm and attitudes of team members) that might be caused by short-term factors.

*Redouble Your Marketing Efforts
As a marketing consultant, this might seem self-serving. I don't mean it that way. I'm simply suggesting that during any economy, small companies can grow faster and win more clients if they step up their marketing energy.

Something about an economic slowdown seems to cause leaders at firms to focus inwardly. They self-analyze, having meeting after meeting about strategic direction, salaries and cost structure.

*When it comes to business development they say, "It's tough out there. I'm getting less action in the market than ever." So both marketing staffs and professionals who should be bringing in clients at firms slow down and do less.

*This time and energy is better spent focusing outwardly, working to improve brand, fill the pipeline, and bring in more clients. If – for just a moment -- you can stop doubting yourself and your value, stop whining about how tough it is out there, and focus the firm on basic marketing and business development, you may find that's all you need to weather the storm.

*Take Advantage of Opportunity for Change
Professional Services companies "embrace change" about as enthusiastically as the sports community of Mexico embraces hockey! However, service firms often shed their reluctance to change and propensity for slow decision making when faced with a business slowdown.
The halls at most service firms are abuzz with "what needs to happen to make this place better" during all economic conditions. When things are good, unproductive staff are often left to keep working. Sluggish marketing is allowed to plod along like the Old Gray Mare. Subpar business units and initiatives keep on keeping on. And bold, innovative initiatives die in committee because they're "too risky."

*Inertia can be a great barrier to change. "All is well, why shake things up?"
If you're the leader when all is not well, inertia is often replaced with a mandate for change. BE BRAVE: Take the opportunity to clean house, tighten the ship, and start new initiatives that will move the firm forward!

As you approach making changes big and small, keep the following one question in mind, "If I make these changes and the economy and business stabilizes, will we be in better shape or worse when things turn around?"

If the answer is "better," make the changes and make them decisively. A slow time at the company is often the best time to reshape the firm and make it stronger for the present and future.
For a free 30-minute consultation, please contact me, Mary Ann McQueen Butcher at Don't Be the Best Kept Secret!

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