Okay, so it is no secret that the long sickly arms of the recession have affected most every business out there. I personally think many economists are in a state of denial. While I am not willing to drop the "D" word (in public at least), I do find it quite disturbing that, in this day and age, it took a year to "officially" declare a recession.
I can tell you that the ripple effect of the economic downturn has affected The Old State in many ways. Ironically, we are actually busier than we have ever been, and we have a larger active client count than we have ever had at one time. Budgets in all business, for the most part, have simply tightened up. The reality for our business like many others is that we have to be extra careful with every cent of our money and our clients money, to ensure every dollar spent has a significant ROI.
The fact of the matter is it is simply harder to turn a profit these days for most businesses (alcohol, tobacco, and firearms excluded). But seriously, most consumers and businesses out there are simply (and wisely) watching every penny these days, and making sure that they are getting the most bang for every buck. Therefore we are all having to work extra hard to keep things in the black. That brings me to this post. We decided to take a proactive approach, and create a quick 5-point How To Recession Proof Your Business list of things we can all do everyday to be good stewards of our businesses in this uncertain economic climate.
1. Expense Audit - Set aside 1 hour a week to sit with your staff and identify any areas where there might be a way to tighten the belt. Example - We shopped around our health insurance rates, and found a way to save over $500 a month. Some of these can be staff related, and others will be management related. Reviewing how to save on processes, inventory, shipping, insurance, maid service, etc. can all be helpful. Evaluating monthly expenditures as a group is a great way to identify wasteful spending.
2. Customer Relations - Now more than ever, customer relations and support are very important to the bottom line. Understanding how your customers businesses work and how their business is being affected is a great way to build trust. This will also lead to ways you may be able to help, which can lead to new business for you and long-term mutually beneficial relationships.
3. Technology Streamlining - There is a great reckoning in American and International business taking place right now. Now, more than ever, businesses are realizing that the old way of doing things may not be the most efficient or profitable. The face of business has changed in this new global, and transparent marketplace. Businesses need to consider new ways of becoming more efficient. Technology advances, virtual offices, paperless systems, web-based infrastructures, mobile devices, and many other new processes and technologies may increase productivity and make your business more profitable.
4. Brand Building - During times like these, one of the best things you can do is work on your overall brand. These days the best brands broadcast a cohesive message on all fronts. Finding ways of building credibility and value for your customers is key. Co-President and Director of Brand Innovation at Barrie DRozario Murphy said, "During uncertain times we tend to place our trust in those people, brands and institutions we believe truly understand us. When every dollar counts we take fewer risks and are likely to choose brands that are highly relevant to our immediate needs. We seek products that represent a genuine value, not because of a price cut, but because they deliver on their promise."
5. Networking (Physically AND Virtually) - Ok so we all know that, who you know, is key to any successful business. Of course you have to get yourself and your business out there. There are many ways to network these days. I personally have chosen to attend more of the free, or maybe better-stated "dues free" business networking events this year. While things like Chamber of Commerce events, and trade shows, definitely bring value and new customers, there are plenty of free business related events worth looking into. But MOST IMPORTANTLY networking online is quickly becoming one of the most efficient and beneficial ways to get your business in front of new people. We have had as many potential clients contact us this year from blog posts, Twitter Feeds
(tweets), or FaceBook posts lately as we have had from conventional networking methods. And guess what we even save on gas.
So that is it for now. Remember, Recession Proofing can be fun. I like to compare it to the E- Friendly Movement. It is all about keeping an open mind to change, and exploring new, more efficient, and innovative ideas.
Disclaimer - This is by no means a definitive list. If you wish to contribute to the list, feel free. Haters are welcome too!