Most businesspeople agree the economy continues to be challenging. Signs of a lingering downturn are everywhere. Business activity is slow. Governments at all levels report low tax revenue and are restructuring, and not spending. Customers want you to cut prices.
With a high level of oversupply in many industries, high unemployment and reduced customer spending, many businesspeople face a highly competitive environment.
To keep your dream alive in this downturn, you must find ways to adapt and do it quickly. That means re-examining business plans, strengthening risk management initiatives, retaining top talent, and making internal changes and restructuring to increase efficiency and profitability – all while looking for new opportunities for growth.
How to improve your business position:
- Be defensive. Protect your turf by taking the best possible care of your best customers. You can invigorate sales with customer retention strategies. Find out what they think of your company, and make necessary improvements. You might consider jettisoning high-maintenance customers. Upon careful review, you might find they’re not profitable for you. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re just moving money around.
- Expand your customer base. By surveying your best customers, you’ll probably get some compliments. That’s a perfect opportunity to ask for referrals. Find low-cost ways of rewarding them for referring their associates, relatives and friends to you. Here are sales and networking strategies to build strong relationships.
- Invest in your future. Keep your productive marketing going. Train your workers. Take advantage of innovations in technology. Consider the 11 strategies to keep your business floating above water.
- Develop an employee-loyalty program. Make it a fun working environment. Even if you can’t give raises, learn how other businesses are successful in retaining their best employees. Learn which employees are most-likely to quit. Be transparent with them. Explain your challenges and how they can help, especially in processes and with customers. Note the strategies if a valued employee wants a raise, and money’s tight.
- Fine-tune your branding. The Eight Best Practices in Small Business Marketing. The key to remember – customers want value. Think 1930s for business success. Consumer attitudes are changing.
- Give back to the community. Did you know that cause-related marketing can increase sales by double digits?
- Review your pricing strategy. Determine how to get more return on your sales. There are eight simple strategies to give you pricing power.
- Use best practices in managing your financials. If you’re struggling, here are the step-by-step solutions for a company turnaround.
- Be creative in your receivables. If collections are a challenge, here’s how to ease debt-collection headaches.
- If you’re small, make it work for you. Remember size doesn’t matter but image, professionalism count.
- Do your best for the environment. Eco strategies work with customers. Here’s a checklist for branding, selling your biz as green.
- Become an innovator. You must constantly evolve. Here’s how successful companies innovate. Once you are running on all cylinders, consider buying your competitors – providing, of course, you can manage them.
From the Coach’s Corner, if you’re really in a survival mode, here’s a six-part series with tips on “Surviving Economic & Industry Downturns” for your Downturn Survival.
“Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.”
Terry Corbell, my close colleague and friend, is Seattle’s “Biz Coach.” I wanted to share his article with you, and refer you to his site, where you will find hundreds of interviews and articles (http://www.bizcoachinfo.com).