How Are You Managing the Economic Downturn?

Over the past few weeks I’ve received quite a few cold calls and introductory e-mails from small businesses. I wondered if this was in response to the economic downturn. So I decided to ask a representative sample of small businesses by contacting my LinkedIn network to ask “how are you managing the downturn?”

Less than 20% have responded so far, but I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned as soon as possible. Hopefully you’ll gain some new ideas and perspectives to help you in strategizing for your own business.

The primary strategies initiated by early respondents fall into three basic categories: rethinking, leveraging and streamlining. I’ve organized the responses accordingly.

Rethinking

Many companies are not just being more aggressive, they’re being strategically aggressive. Some are offering new monetary or other incentives. Some are focusing on a redefined or diversified target market.

Arlene Rosen, www.aramediasolutions.com, My new strategy is offering a free trial for the first month, implying that the client will continue in subsequent months if satisfied. I’m also being much more aggressive with follow-up. When I hadn’t heard from a client after 3 e-mails I called him and learned that he had not received the messages. Now if I don’t receive a response from someone I would expect to hear from, I call.

Jezra Kaye, www.jezrakaye.com. I’ve lowered my fees through the end of the year, both for private speaker coaching and workshops. It’s risky (and of course I’d love to make more!), but right now my top priority is growing my reputation-and that means having lots more people experience, and talk about, what I offer. Giving people a “deal” right now, while everyone’s wary about spending money, makes it easier for them to decide to invest in building their public speaking skills.

Karen Pinkman, www.knpassociates.com. This is a most timely and excellent question – and one that those of us who want to survive need to answer and plan for now! The business of retained search follows the economy. Therefore a clear downturn has been happening.

Strategy:
– stay closer than usual to major clients. So when there is work, they call us first.
– specialize and publicize – very focused e-media such as mass emails or e-ads to advise clients and outside constituencies what we do best and how to contact us.
– make sure we’re easily accessible to potential clients.
– diversify business: include resume development and job strategy development.

It’s almost like “mutual funding” one’s business – diversifying it enough to generate cash flow but not so broad that one’s target market can’t figure out what your business is doing.

Leveraging

Some businesses are seeing that their business model offers an advantage to themselves or their customers in this economy and are leveraging that to tap new prospects or new markets.

Todd Katz, www.calusabank.com. At Calusa we are in a very unique position: since we were “born” after the subprime mess, we do not have a troubled loan portfolio (the single biggest cause of bank failures). In fact, our loan portfolio is pristine – we have not even had one late payment. We are seeing a flight to safety – we grew our assets more in the last two weeks than we did in the prior two months.

Many of our competitors are sending us loan opportunities since their troubled home offices have halted any new loans. The slowdown in our local economy is certainly affecting us but not in any way like the rest of the financial community. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!

Terry Gray, www.kinanegray.com. Kinane Gray provides contract administrative support and research services for small companies. Prospects seem to have an underlying anxiety and uncertainty about their business, so I am leveraging the fact that clients do not have to pay me employee benefits.

Scott Roberts, www.virtualnewscenter.com. We actually expect that the contraction in the radio industry that is occurring because of the downturn in advertising revenues (especially because of the hard time car dealers are having) will be a significant opportunity for us. That’s because we provide an outsourced solution that allows the station to reallocate resources.

Streamlining

Cutting expenses, improving productivity, creating alternatives, going back to the basics are some of the streamlining strategies in play.

Dale Kurow, www.dalekurow.com. I’m going back to my tried and true methods of keeping in touch with those who have supported my business in the past and sent me lucrative referrals. That might mean a lunch or coffee to see them face to face. Also, I’m exploring alternate ways of keeping my name in front of people. I like to write, so articles I can post on the web, about my services, is something I’m revisiting. I’ve made contacts with editors, and will be asking them how I can help with future story ideas.

Brian Moran, www.moranmediagroup.com. Moran Media Group publishes national magazines for small business owners. We are much like many other small businesses around the country in that we too are feeling the pains of the current economic downturn.

Over the last few months, we’ve done some belt tightening. We’re more frugal about our spending, but we also don’t want to miss out on good opportunities. We’re making sure to allocate available funds to projects that will give us a greater ROI. Ironically, in 2008, our revenue will be up significantly. In addition, our expenses will be lower than projected. This is helpful because one of our two credit lines was not renewed when it matured earlier this year.

The key to our success will be to successfully sell our Network’s services to some of the top marketers in our space.

Nina Kaufman, www.askthebusinesslawyer.com. I am taking this time to revise and launch new products to “shore up” my service business. I’m also doing some long-range planning to look at alternative service offerings and avenues for professional speaking. Most importantly, having a little more time on my hands gives me time to get to the gym and make sure I remain in good health so that I don’t succumb to any stress-related illness.

Use these ideas to help you consider options for your own business in 2012. With careful planning 2012 can be a good year. If you’re feeling paralyzed or unsure about your options, please be in touch ASAP. I’m here to help.