The past few years haven’t been kind to some small businesses. From the global financial crisis to sluggish economic growth, from constant change to competitive pressures, from customer acquisition to loss many small businesses are working hard but not moving fast enough. An unpaid invoice, or an unscrupulous employee can further strain a small business. If your business is facing tough times, don’t give up. Surviving tough times is possible, but you’ll need to do more than just keeping your chin up. With a smart, strategic approach, you can keep your business in the black and get back on track quickly.
Here’s what to do:
Don’t slash your prices.
If your prices are in line with the current marketplace, don’t slash them. Doing so will diminish the perceived value of your products or services in the eyes of your existing customers and clients. Instead, focus on how you can strengthen your service and out perform the competition.
Market your business strategically.
You don’t need miracles to be remarkable because so many companies are, frankly mediocre. Nothing can replace great word-of-mouth marketing – and its free when your customers are happy. Whilst we might hope that our best customers will refer us without prompting, it is always better to have a conversation, ask them who they know and follow up effectively and promptly. Your customers should be proud of the way you enhance their reputation when they refer you. Even if your products or services are the same as others in your marketplace, focus on meeting and exceeding your customers expectations as your business’s selling point. Improving customer experience could be as simple as delivering on all your promises, being more diligent with follow-up calls and promptly responding to complaints or concerns. Strengthening customer experience probably won’t even cost anything, but doing so will pay off with increased customer loyalty.
Stay on top of your invoices.
Don’t let invoices from your suppliers go unpaid; doing so can damage your credit and your reputation with vendors. If you can’t meet your monthly overhead, cut with precision to protect monthly cash flow. As a small business owner, you may need to reduce or forgo your pay – for a while. Don’t let the clients have too much credit either, and stop working for them if they won’t pay on time. Most businesses understand that you need to be paid and following up an unpaid invoice professionally can often strengthen a relationship.
Focus on fundamentals.
When the economy is strong, your teams may not be as strong as their results suggest, because the marketplace is flush with consumers. During tough times, however, you need to refocus on business basics. Fine-tune your advertising campaigns and eliminate gaps in training. Keep curious about your customers expectation, anticipate and lead them, and make sure your whole team is performing well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s better to reach out now than wait until you’re in the red.
If times are tough, you can, and will, get to more profitable times by focussing on these fundamentals. Fear and worry can distract you, don’t let it.
The importance of strategy
Difficult times are when great strategy matters the most. The vision and goals give us direction and the strategy enables us to focus properly on the actions that are needed.
If you would like to know more about how to make this happen fill in the form and we will be in touch.