During tough economic times, people are often nervous about spending money on things they perceive as non-essential. As a business owner or an entrepreneur selling services and products, how do you keep your company growing and customers buying?
You’re probably hearing a lot about the struggling economy lately. Rising interest rates, inflation, employment, and challenges are all out there. But they’ll always be out there in one form or another. You can’t just stick your head in the sand and hope your business survives the next rough wave.
A better alternative is to be proactive about managing your business. If you’re willing to invest in your own small business and refine the way you operate, there are things to help grow your company when times are bad. From refining your processes to adjusting your marketing, there are many ways to keep your business running smoothly and thriving when the economy takes a hit.
We’ve all been there—stuck in a rut and feeling like we can’t get out. So how do you keep your business growing when the economy is bad? First, look at some doable action items to keep your business strong when the economy is struggling.
1. Concentrate on your existing clients.
It’s harder and more expensive to find new clients than to nurture your existing clients when times are tough. However, your current clients are your most significant source of revenue and profit. Don’t spend time, effort, and resources trying to find new clients in a challenging economy. Instead, concentrate on existing clients and what you can do to help them grow. If you’re a professional services company, focus on your best clients who have already benefited from your skills and knowledge. It’s easier to build a relationship with someone if they’re already interested in what you offer rather than trying to sell to someone who doesn’t really care about what you have to say.
2. Expand your services and grow your customer base.
While many businesses take a hit during tough times, some endure. And if you’re doing well, use it to your advantage. Economic challenges provide an excellent opportunity to expand services and grow your customer base. In addition, businesses that offer services that aren’t easily outsourced or replicated can increase their revenue; some even make up the difference through volume.
3. Improve operations and optimize workflow.
Consider your current work process, from the first interaction with a customer to the final sale. For example, suppose you have a salesperson calling potential customers every day until the deal is done. In that case, you must figure out ways to scale that process without adding costs. Or perhaps streamlining the same process with marketing automation can allow the same salesperson to serve twice as many people.
Businesses that operate effectively during tough times are flexible, adaptable, and prepared for any contingency. Streamlining processes improves efficiency and helps your business survive a challenging economy.
4. Take care of your employees.
You can increase profits by ensuring you provide your employees with the best working environment possible. Experts suggest that ensuring they have a sufficient workspace, current technology, and privacy to complete their work adds to employee satisfaction. In addition, employees who are content and well-cared tend to work harder and consistently during times when salary increases may not be possible because of a down economy.
5. Keep your employees.
Your customers need to trust that your company knows what it’s doing and that enough qualified, knowledgeable people are working on their behalf. When employees are cut, the company suffers as the talent pool decreases in a lousy economy. With less qualified staff on hand, it makes your company look weak and untrustworthy. Experienced staff members are the unsung heart of your company’s workflow.
While it may seem easy to lay off staff in an economic downturn, it’s not. It requires costly time and energy and makes your company look bad and worse; it hurts morale. Stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. Do you need more people? Can you automate specific processes? Ask yourself if you can grow your business without hiring or firing anyone.
6. Manage Cash Flow and avoid debt.
Business owners need to keep the books balanced and in good standing. This will make paying monthly expenses and payroll easier to manage. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you’re working with large amounts of business financing. Your company can quickly become a debt trap. Additionally, it’s more challenging to control costs and retain good employees when finances are mismanaged. Work efficiently and avoid excessive debt.
7. Provide product or service incentives to your current customers.
When times are tough, customers who are doing well still like to extend their hard-earned cash purchasing power. As a result, consumers enjoy a good deal. This doesn’t mean you should slash prices on all your products and services. Still, there’s an opportunity to pump up sales while providing additional value to your offerings. For example, if you sell software that you know your customers love, why not offer a discount or some other upsell to encourage a more significant purchase. If you sell cosmetics or provide professional services, offer a small bonus item for a referral or testimony for your business. Even a good word-of-mouth referral can create a sales bump when customers are scarce.
8. Expand your Branding Efforts.
A bad economy doesn’t mean you need to pull back on your marketing budget. Quite the contrary. Instead, it would help if you continue building your brand and expanding your market. For example, suppose you consider adding more products or services to your company’s offering. Instead, ask, “How am I going to be different from my competition?” and “How is my current offering going to fit into the future of the industry?” In a market where spending dollars are scarce, consumers will look for a brand that stands out from the rest and appears longstanding.
9. Expand Your Professional Network
Expanding your professional network means that you’re creating new relationships. It’s surprising how many businesses fail to grow and expand their customer base because they never take the time to build their professional network. Attending conferences and social events are great networking opportunities. Additionally, they create opportunities for business alliances that help your company endure turbulent waters. Finally, learning from the experience of other business pros in your network can help prevent costly business mistakes and help guide your business.
10. Maintain physical and mental health.
Running a business keeps your life busy, and you might wonder how you’re supposed to keep up your business during the lean economic times. However, you can maintain your mental and physical health without sacrificing your business goals. You and your employees need to keep a positive outlook. The key is to find ways to keep everyone’s mind and body healthy while keeping the machine running. Maintaining good mental health is another article, but here are some things to consider for your business.
- Adjust the hours of your work day for more variety.
- Allow employees more flexibility in their schedule to accommodate family and wellness.
- Incorporate remote working.
- Allow additional personal days instead of salary increases
- Make the office environment warmer and more relaxing
- Encourage employees and yourself to use vacation time
- Offer small office perks like food stations or healthy snacks, or even a gym membership
- Develop a company environment where it’s okay to take a break and refresh your body and mind.
- Treat your employees to lunch and encourage non-office-related conversation.
11. Get help from a pro.
An experienced marketing agency can provide you with services that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to handle independently. It can also help you to understand your competition’s marketing strategies and what you can do to stand out from the crowd.
Many times, small businesses feel like they’re on their own regarding marketing. Still, there are many different ways to promote your company. Marketing agencies have trained professionals who can take the guesswork out of running your online advertising. They can help you create a plan to grow your business and save money.
Most small businesses can barely handle everything that comes along, whether keeping employees or riding a down market. A company that needs customers has to know where to focus. When it comes to growing, it’s essential to prioritize. This means making sure that your business runs efficiently. It includes an efficient work process, and the finances must be managed correctly. It means ensuring that you’re paying your bills and that your employees are getting paid on time. And, finally, it means putting more money into your marketing and advertising budget than ever before. Combining all these efforts will help your business to thrive even when the economy does not.
If you’re looking for someone to help or need some recommendations, feel free to tap the experts at Cooperata. Get things started by using our contact form.
For more business growth and survival tips, check out our article:
Small Business Survival in Tough Times