StartupNation’s 5 Survival Tips for Your Business (as seen in Costco Connection Magazine this month)

Latest posts by Rich Sloan (see all)

It’s no secret that running a business in this economy is a challenge. But with the right smarts, you can get through the storm.

To survive you’ll have to make the most of your time (which you likely have more of as a result of less customer activity) and take into account the impact of your business bolstering efforts today as well as in the long term.

Here are tried and true survival strategies used by successful entrepreneurs:

1. Cozy up with Customers. They’re your lifeblood. But much like you, your customers are under duress. Take them to lunch and commiserate. Provide a giveaway recognizing their past patronage using inventory that’s collecting dust. If you take the time to listen to customers’ needs and show them you genuinely care about their welfare and success, you’ll likely uncover immediate business opportunities as well as engender future loyalty.

2. Experiment. The worst thing to do during tough times is lose your entrepreneurial spirit. Use the extra time on hand to conduct otherwise too time-consuming ideas you’ve always wanted to explore. For example, it could be a strategic alliance with a complementary business or a special buy-one-get-one-free email marketing campaign (we recommend VerticalResponse), just about anything product-, operational- or marketing-related that you’ve simply never had the time to try because you were too busy.

3. Loop in Financiers. With the overall economy in a recession, it’s likely your business is taking a hit, too. Rather than recoiling into the shadows, proactively share exactly what’s happening and what your plan is with your banker or other capital sources. Ensuring that they understand your business and are well attuned to your future plans will help you avoid financial surprises that often occur when parties aren’t well informed.

4. Trim Hours Not Staff. If lower revenue is a reality, consider cutting hours of your employees rather than firing them outright. It not only shows you care about their welfare, but strategically it also helps you retain your most valuable asset – your people – for when the economy inevitably turns around and you need 100%+ hours from them. Firing is difficult, but hiring quality people and training them is a huge burden on a business you should avoid if you can.

5. Stretch Your Spend. To make every dollar go as far as possible, review all of your vendor contracts. Where reasonable ask for breaks on pricing. Everyone’s in this together and though your heroics have made you the leader of your company, and a shining example of an American entrepreneur, don’t let your pride keep you from taking advantage of these potential savings. Every dollar saved will be critical during the down year to come.

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