Friday, December 06, 2013

Getting Back Up in a Drag-You-Down Economy

If you're tired of hearing about the "soft" economy that's been hanging over us for the past few years, or worried about the future of your company in uncertain times, you certainly aren't alone – business owners and managers around the country are enduring a lot of sleepless nights right along with you. 

But, while we can't forecast exactly what the economy is going to bring next month, much less next year, what we can do is give you some tried-and-true tips for keeping your business going strong regardless of what's going on around you. Here are five industrial-strength tips for getting back up in a drag-you-down economy:

1. Look past the front-page news. Don't assume that business has to be bad just because they said so on the nightly news. While the economy as a whole might not exactly be on fire, that doesn't mean that certain industries, areas, and even businesses aren't doing better than ever.

Rather than simply assuming things are in the tank, take a careful inventory of your recent sales, along with conversations you've had with important buyers. You might just find that the parts of the economy that actually affect you and your company aren't nearly as bad as you might think.

2. Get back to basics. Assuming you are facing tough economic conditions, one of the smartest things you can do is to get back to proven strategies and offers. Although a lot of business owners and managers panic when things get tough and try a "kitchen sink" approach to sales and marketing, it's sometimes better to do the opposite.

That doesn't mean you should stop looking for new business, of course, but that you should emphasize the campaigns, products, and pricing structures that have worked for you in the past.

3. Provide your customers with something essential or irresistible. There are all kinds of things that people will keep buying in any economy, simply because they either need them, or represent too good of a value to pass up. What can you give buyers that they can't ignore, or couldn't buy somewhere else?

When you have the answer to that question, you know what you can offer to the public reliably during a tough economy and have them keep coming back for more.

4. Make smarter investments. Granted, you should be careful about the money you spend for your business in any economic climate. But, when things are slow and future revenue is uncertain, be very wary of luxury items, unnecessary investments, and business purchases with long financing terms.

You can and should certainly keep pouring a percentage of your profits back into your business, but try to keep a little extra cash reserve, and financial flexibility, in case you need to ride out some short-term bumps.

5. Don't give up. Although this is the last and simplest tip, it's also arguably the most important. The economy may or may not be affecting your business directly, but either way, you can come through without too much trouble if you're willing to outwork your competitors. In fact, a tough economy can actually be a great thing for some businesses, since they take the opportunity to get aggressive and attract customers while their competitors are sitting back and waiting for the sky to fall.

When it comes down to it, most businesses suffer from a lack of confidence and creativity more than they do the actual effects of an economic downturn. In other words, they "know" that the economy is bad, and so they stop trying and take it for granted that revenue and profits are going to be down.

Don't make the same mistake. Things might be a little tougher lately, but that doesn't mean your business has to take a hit.

As published in Apartment News.