03 Jun 2010

27 Profitable Strategies to Combat the Weak Economy

As a business coach, I have always helped entrepreneurs to stop dwelling on the past, stop obsessing about problems, and start focusing on solutions.  This lingering weak economy should be no different. For all of us, it’s time to get beyond the whining, complaining, excuses, negativity, and worrying.  It’s time to stop playing defense and go back on the offense.  Time to “play to win” and not “play not to lose”.

Many of us need to turn off the negative news and turn on our creative business minds.  We already know all about the negatives … but what about the positives?  That’s right, we need to start asking ourselves better and more empowering questions so we can take advantage of this tough economy.

Positives of the slow economy?  Potential advantages?  Have I lost my mind?  I don’t think so.  While the recession and limp recovery have been a rude wake-up call for most small business owners, especially those who were comfortable and complacent riding the waves of a good economy, it has also humbled most owners and made them receptive to getting help.  That’s a good thing.  In fact, the tough economy is one of the main reasons business owners have come to The Growth Coach in record numbers the past 12-18 months.  They came to the realization that on-going coaching and accountability could help them eliminate some bad business practices and habits, get them back on their “A” game, and help them stay there.

Now is the time to rise to the challenge and let the weak recovery bring out the very best in us and our companies. To do so, we all need a massive mindset shift.  These tough times, when viewed properly, can be a real lesson and blessing for many of us to get our acts together…to become better business owners. You see, the smart entrepreneurs will actually embrace this challenge and come out stronger.  They will use the tough economy to learn lessons, make tough decisions and adjustments, take bold actions, become more nimble and innovative, and transform into more effective business owners. Others will continue to wallow in their “economic negativity” and suffer accordingly … let’s hope they are your competitors.

Here are 27 suggestions for taking advantage of the economic challenges in two main areas, general management and sales/marketing:

– Use the recession/weak recovery to finally get rid of your sub-performing employees.
– Upgrade your team with higher-caliber employees now available in the marketplace because of downsizing.
– Cut unnecessary expenses that have grown over the years.
– Identify and correct areas where your company has gotten fat, lazy, complacent and rigid.
– Ask your suppliers, vendors, agents, landlord, etc. to increase the value of their offerings and/or reduce their prices.
– Ask your advisers for additional guidance and help during the recession … replace the ones who don’t rise to the challenge.
– Recognize that you can be both a caring and demanding owner with your employees … hold them accountable for results.
– Outsource certain back-office tasks (payroll, employee benefits, IT, etc.) to others who can do it better and cheaper.
– Review financial information more frequently and make decisions more quickly.
– Ask all employees to help identify and eliminate waste, inefficiencies, mistakes, and unnecessary costs.
– Remove the poor business practices/habits that have crept into your business.
– Stop putting off critical decisions … take bold action.
– Learn to be “lean and mean” again like when you first started out.
– Decide to invest in the growth of yourself and your company with business coaching.

– Continually educate your customers, prospects and referral sources why it’s in their best interest to do business with you.
– Take full advantage of on-line marketing where you can easily track your return on investment.
– Provide incentives to your customers to sign up for multiple-year contracts.
– Focus better on serving, delighting and retaining your customers … keep what you already have!
– Eliminate unprofitable product lines, customers, and territories … dump the “dogs”.
– Enter promising new markets and/or start providing profitable new services/products.
– Analyze your marketing expenditures/strategies and keep the winners and lose the losers…track metrics.
– Reward your superstar salespeople (proven performers) with more territories, customers, prospects, privileges, etc.
– Invest in sales coaching & accountability for your salespeople … a great ROI.
– Ask your customers for more feedback and make adjustments quicker.
– Sell additional products/services to your current customers and do it more often.
– Improve the value and differentiation of your offerings.
– Ask whomever you cut regular checks to (vendors, suppliers) to support your business with quality leads.

No doubt about it, in good times, running a business is much easier … you are paddling with the current.  However, you can also take things for granted, get a bit lazy and complacent, and allow some poor business practices to seep into the company.  In challenging times, a smart owner really learns to run a business, make tough decisions and adjustments, take bold actions, and innovate. Do not waste a bad economy by ignoring the great lessons it can offer the wise owner.

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