For the past year, we have been bombarded by waves of bad news about the economy. A falling stock market, distressed banking system, job losses, and lack of credit have all punctured our confidence in the future. Yet in many conversations, I find optimism from local business owners about the present and the future.
Several individuals IÕve talked with have had record sales in the last few months while others noted significant gains. If the economy is so bad, whatÕs going on with them?
Even in troubled times, many businesses seem to thrive. They track their results and make necessary adjustments quickly. They take advantage of opportunities others miss. And they utilize Òbest management practicesÓ throughout their operations. So how can your business be one of those? Here are several things to help you stay on track.
- 1. Separate regional economic trends from those affecting the nation. Local economic indicators show that the Pacific Northwest is having a different experience than the rest of the country. A good source of economic trends is Bill ConerlyÕs monthly newsletter that focuses on the Pacific Northwest. www.conerlyconsulting.com ConerlyÕs view suggests the Northwest is in better shape than the nation as a whole.
- 2. Separate the short term (three to nine months) from the long term. If you expect a recession to last for several quarters, develop a contingency plan for that period. But donÕt forget your growth plans for the next few years. Keep focused on long term objectives. You may be back on track sooner than you think. During the slow period, use the time to tune up the business. Work on improving productivity, developing new ideas or improving your customer service efforts.
- 3. Get close to your best customers again. WhatÕs going on with them? What help could they get from you? Their needs are changing and you could be a part of what they need.
- 4. Maintain your marketing presence. Now is the time to be Òtop of mindÓ with customers and prospects alike. In downturns, itÕs common to cut costs, which often means marketing. Consider marketing expenditures to be an investment in the future. Now is not the time to be quiet.
- 5. Evaluate and train your employees. Look for new recruits for critical positions. Good people have been hard to find in the past few years. Business owners have been seeing more qualified candidates lately. This may be the time to find the stars you need for the next expansion.
- 6. Bring your business plan up to date and prepare a cash flow forecast for 2009. You donÕt have to forecast record sales for next year, but you can focus on creating a healthy bottom line through careful planning and effort.
How long the recession lasts is subject to speculation. Some say it may be two or three quarters. Others think it could be longer. The length is not important. ItÕs how you approach it and what you can do to strengthen your company while waiting for recovery.
There are many Òbest management practicesÓ you can adopt to improve the business in the coming year. If you would like to hear more about tuning up your company, call us at for a free strategy session on tackling the recession. We have lots of ideas for profit improvement.
Travis Snider is President of BETS Consulting and Executive Director of the Northwest Business Institute. He is a successful business coach and consultant focused on helping small business grow and prosper. For questions or comments, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-337-3333.
BETS Consulting provides workshops, coaching programs and business tools utilizing a collection of Top Profit Strategies of Successful Small Business Owners. This collection is the result of six years of research into why certain small businesses are more successful than others. These programs train owners to evaluate their businesses, create a vision and goals for the future and build the ideal company. We help you grow faster and more profitably with less risk.