by Dawn Homa
Are we in a recession? I am not sure.
But lessons learned from the 2009 Recession and the 2020 Covid Episode have put me on high alert to make sure my business is healthy.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
Train and cross-train your staff
If Covid taught me one thing, it is to have your staff know as many job positions as possible. When the primary person is out, there is someone else who can take over the task and “save the day”. Work continues and productivity remains high. Which results in happier customers and a better bottom line.
In 2009 Downsizing was so important. Today many of us are already “downsized” as we can’t find quality employees. Maintaining employees (happy employees) means offering better benefits, more time off, flexible time schedules, more input into the business. Your front-line people have great ideas – listen to them and use them to grow your market or services.
Education and Training
This is key to a healthy business. Give your staff opportunities to learn and grow. Let them use what they learned. Let them train other team members. You need to be focused on driving the business.
Eliminate low-profit sales that are time suckers and stop discounting
Don’t give away your product. Compete with service, quality and uniqueness. Why are you different? You better find out now and use that to your advantage.
And RUN away from those people who say “I want to buy local, but you aren’t cheaper”… They will never be a customer worth having. Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean your overhead is any lower than that of a large company. These people will never understand that “buying local” means supporting your local community and business, not that they will get “discounted pricing”.
Focus on quality
That’s what wins in the long run. Never forget this.
To keep a positive cash flow, you have to ask for payment upfront. Credit terms need to be avoided. If you have to do terms, issue invoices promptly. Follow up on them if they aren’t being paid. I don’t want to be chasing someone down the street for 90 days to get paid… Do you?
Trounce the competition
Stand out from the crowd. Differentiate yourself from your competition. Are you making it easier for people to buy from you? Does your staff professionally answer the phone and are competent to answer questions? Can you offer package deals that make it more convenient for your customers?
Activate those fun and unique promotional ideas
Big businesses cut back on their marketing budget during hard times, but small businesses are more agile. So, this is the time to unleash all that creative power and dive into marketing and crazy ideas that make you seen and heard.
Awareness of your Brand and Yourself
Are you out there making people aware of your brand? Are you branding yourself? When someone thinks of your type of business/service, do they think of you first? Make brand awareness a top priority.
Focus on your core competencies and current customers
Focus most of your attention on your core competencies and your current customers. Let them know of other services you offer. Don’t think “they know” everything you provide.
Strengthen your personal connections
Successful small business owners tend to have personal and meaningful connections with their clients. Entrepreneurs will have open and candid conversations with their clients and better understand their needs and wants.