Turn Recession Woes into “Wows”

Economists and the media may debate whether we are in a true “recession” or not, but that doesn’t change the fact that sales are down and consumers are pulling back.  I’m certainly not excited about this, but I’m not traumatized either.  The economy is full of ups and downs and we obviously can’t have the ups without surviving a couple of the downs.  It’s just one of those fact of life things.  And, as with anything- there’s always an upside if you look hard enough.  Recessions are a great time to break out your business plan and re-evaluate your goals, projections, and expenditures.  These past couple of months I’ve taken the opportunity to completely re-vamp my business model and finally tackle some of those tough decisions I’ve been procrastinating on.  I’m launching a new line, embracing the beauty of “turn-key” manufacturing, and finally giving in to more of the automation that technology can offer.  If it all works out as planned, I’ll have a new clothing line that I can’t wait to tell the world about, better control over my cash flow, and a couple extra hours a week to play the Wii with my kids.  I’m more excited than ever about the future of my company.  Join me for a “recession makeover” and try these suggestions to help get in tip-top shape for the next upswing.

Focus on Your Strengths

We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t try to suffer through your weaknesses if it’s not necessary.  For example, if you hate doing the bookkeeping, don’t waste 10 hours a week punishing yourself in hopes saving a couple bucks.  Spend the $50/week for a bookkeeper and use the time saved to work on generating more business.  You can’t wear all the hats required to run your company-and you shouldn’t.  It only dilutes your strengths.

Take “You” Out of the Equation

One of the biggest time stealers for small businesses is falling prey to the perils of micromanaging.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s your managerial style or the result of overly needy employees – its bad news either way.  Empower your staff, independent contractors, or vendors to handle minor situations without your involvement.  Update your operations manual (or write one for that matter) to outline protocol for common situations, develop a FAQ for customer service, and give trouble-shooting tips that are “boss approved” for employee use. 

Check Your Marketing Plan

Are you accomplishing your marketing goals for 2008?  Are those magazine ads driving traffic to your website?  If not, analyze your advertising ROI and update ads that aren’t performing well.  Also, take some time to review your website statistics and conversion funnels.  Test your website to find which pages have the highest conversion rates and then duplicate those strategies throughout the website.  If you’ve sets goals of writing a company blog or launching a newsletter campaign, take the time to do it now.

Cut Costs

If you have any fat on your balance sheet, start trimming now.  Go through your expenses line by line and ask yourself three questions.  Is the cost justified?  Has the service/product fulfilled your needs?  Can you negotiate better terms?  If you’re not satisfied with the service or feel like you could find a better deal elsewhere, start researching alternatives. 

While there is always more than can be done to give your business a check-up, I hope these suggestions can at least get you started in the right direction.  Good luck with the makeover!

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