Since then we’ve seen the .com crash in early 2001, closely followed by the tech wreck and a number of catastrophic global incidents.
What I’ve learnt from others over the years is to be creative and resourceful. Luckily, small business owners are normally blessed with entrepreneurial flair. If you can act swiftly, you may be able to take advantage of the downturn. It’s time to look at how you conduct your business and come up with new strategies to weather the storm and even add new prospects and revenue streams – things you wouldn’t have thought of in brighter times.
Guy Gadney, president of the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association told me, “Now is the time to manage your cash flow effectively and tightly. It’s vital that you know when money is coming in and when it has to go out, where it’s coming from and where it has to go to.”
Quite rightly, businesses will scrutinise what they deem as non-profitable activities. It’s a time when companies assess their employees: who isn’t pulling their weight, who isn’t meeting targets. If you’re not seen as an asset to the business, you’re in danger of becoming an unfortunate unemployment statistic.
But don’t panic! Everyone is looking to cut costs at a time like this; you just need to be careful of what you cut as your immediate reaction might not be the smartest.
Cuts in areas such as marketing, employment, training and price aren’t necessarily the best ones to make.
It would be a great shame to cut back too much on staffing, especially your really good employees. Think about how hard they were to find in the first place and the cost of training them.
It’s also a false economy if you don’t invest in training and development. Further increasing the skills of your employees can give you a competitive advantage.
I would also caution companies not to put too much pressure on their employees. If you need to make a new hire because work dictates, you should.
The things I would advise you to concentrate on are: cashflow; improving the customer experience; looking after key employees; and evaluating the touch points to market. I would spend money on website improvement, online marketing strategies and internal training activities.
Where possible, I would try to position your business as helping customers save costs. This often requires innovation on your part and doesn’t mean you should reduce your price – that’s a danger to the business and future growth. But it’s worth giving time and thought to being creative.
And don’t freak out. Remember the line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If: “If you can keep your head when all about you, Are losing theirs...” Worry and fear feed on themselves and are your biggest enemies in troubling times.
This article origially appeared in NETT Magazine December 2008