Go Back To Basics In Tough Economic Times
Even if we are not officially in a recession, the rising cost of everything means that people are more closely watching their spending these days.
As a small business owner, this means it's more important than ever that you double up efforts to make your business as recession-proof as possible. Here are 5 ways to do it.
1. Keep A New Product In Your Back Pocket. Always keep a special product in the research and development pipeline so that, when everyone is whining about low sales, you can introduce a new product with great fanfare. Yes, it means you have to plan ahead. Yes, it means you have to constantly work on the next big thing. But you should be doing that anyway.
Lela Barker at Bella Lucce has been working on a new line of spa delights for the past year. Finally close to launch, all the work and planning was done before people started tightening their pocketbooks. A steady stream of announcements about the soon-to-debut line at the Bella Lucce blog (scroll to February 12 and February 14 posts) has kept interest high and everyone is looking forward to pouncing on the new goodies when they finally get the chance.
2. Stay In Touch With Your Customers. In difficult economic times, if you have not forgotten about your customers, they will not forget about you. Be vigilant in staying in touch with your customers and prospects on a consistent basis throughout the year. Technology makes this easy with email newsletters and blogs. Even direct mail is not out of the reach of most small businesses because competition in the printing industry has driven prices down. For example, 48hourprint.com offers 1000 full color, 2-sided 4 x 6 postcards for just $134 (at their site as of today, with 10% discount). And with most phone companies offering flat rate long distance, don't forget that you can always reach out and touch someone.
3. Put Planning Ahead Of Everything Else. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," is more than the parental advice that drove you nuts. Effective business owners always skate to where the puck is going, and not to where it is. Read trade journals, newsletters and magazines that keep you abreast of what your competitors are doing. Keep your ear to the ground and always be on the lookout for the next way to impress your customers with things they can't get anywhere else.
4. Cut Costs To The Absolute Bare Minimum. Slash and burn every bit of fat in your business. Individual savings on everything from packing peanuts to paper clips add up to an increased profit margin. It doesn't take much to make up for tight consumer spending if you are watching your bottom line as closely as your customers are watching theirs.
5. Look For Opportunities To Blow Your Horn. Touting the benefits of products or services is difficult for people who think it's kind of like bragging. OK, I will let you think that way for 2 seconds. One. Two. That's enough. If you don't blow your horn, you can't then wonder why your bank account is empty.
Tell people what you are doing. Remind them of how well you are doing it. You could even link to my post featuring the "Top 10 Reasons To Buy Indie" as a way to remind your customers of all the great reasons why your products are far superior to what they can buy in a box on the cheap.
Check in with every blogger you know who writes about products or services like yours and share your offerings. (Click here for beauty blog advice from some pros.) Without you, they'd have nothing to write about so take a deep breath and go for it. If you don't put yourself out there, your business will die.
What About You?
How are you recession-proofing your business? Have you had success following any of this advice? Please share your opinions, expert tips and experiences here.
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