Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doing Business in Tough Times: 7 tips to get you through

Some industries are facing tough times right now, and others are facing very tough times. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to have a look at the implications of what it means for businesses when the economy is down. This doesn't apply to all industries right now, but if your segment is running flat, some important points to remember are;
  • Forget About Maximising Profits
    Now is not the time to be worrying about growing your bottom line numbers - it's time for focussing on staying in the game!

  • It's a Great Time to Build Market Share
    Even if the whole economy has moved down a notch, chances are that people are still buying what your business provides. People might buy less often, and might buy less from you, but make sure they're buying from you! Once the economy picks up, you'll be in a prime position to grow.

  • Adjust to the New Realities
    Rather than whine about changes that are negatively affecting your industry, be a leader that takes the new technologies and makes them work to your advantage. Change your business model so that you're selling where customers are buying - and if that's online, you'd better get good at that! Ensure your business is optimised for 2011 (not 1999). Rethink your marketing, your staff, your operations and your administration. What needs to change?

  • Compete on Service NOT Price
    When times are tough, the tendency is to discount, discount, discount. While there may be merit in reducing your prices somewhat, there'll only ever be one winner at that game and you probably don't want to win the prize for dropping your pants lowest! The alternative is to compete on customer service. Provide each and every one of your customers with exemplary service and showcase this to everyone else! Give customers the best experience possible and aim to be the best value, not the lowest price.

  • It's Not Personal
    Remember, your reaction to any set of circumstances is up to you. Don't let it get you down! Smile. Keep healthy. Nurture your friends and family. Look after yourself. And if you're struggling to keep things in perspective, stop and do something about it (take a break, seek advice, get some fresh air, or whatever works for you).

  • Focus on Your Sphere of Influence
    Stop thinking about and talking about how difficult everything is. (If you talk about problems, all you'll see is problems.) Start focussing on the customer in front of you and how you could make their experience a little bit better. Make them feel like dealing with you again... soon!

  • Good Businesses WILL Survive
    Remember, this is temporary and you've probably experienced something like it before. Think of these times as a shake-out designed to test which businesses should be here. If you've got a great offering and determination, obviously that's you. Be smart and you'll get through!