One lesson learned from the last year is to expect the unexpected and although there are numerous reasons to be optimistic, it’s best to prepare for many eventualities. Economic bounce back may be slower than we all hope and as is often the case, small businesses, whilst light on their feet and quick to adapt, can feel the biggest impact of a slow economy. It’s vital to prepare your business for resilience. By having a plan firmly in place, you can set your business up for the long run. Here are some simple tips to help prepare for the future.
1. Stay On Top of Your Financials
Preparation starts with awareness. You should make it a habit to check your financials every day. You need to have an accurate knowledge of your financial situation in order to make a feasible plan for a future recession.
It’s a good idea to use a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) system to understand which practices generate the most return on investment and which expenses you can spare. In short, what measures are important in your business. Understanding which costs are most worthwhile will allow you to prune your business when necessary. Besides, cutting costs that don’t add to your profit is an excellent way to set your company in good stead. The fewer financial burdens you have when a recession hits, the better.
2. Minimise Operating Costs
Tempting though it be to have lots of face to face meetings and travel to see people when we can again, reduction in these areas have positively impacted profit. Online meetings kept costs down and businesses lean. In order to prepare for a recession, it’s crucial that you keep costs to a minimum and reduce discretionary spending.
Of course, it’s a balancing act. If you’re overzealous in cutting costs, you’ll damage your own productivity in the process. For example, it’s okay to repair or replace a damaged item in your office, but don’t make frivolous upgrades for aesthetic purposes. Carefully consider the return on investment of each cost to optimise your profits.
3. Improve Your Credit Score
It’s difficult to secure a loan during a recession and you’ll need an excellent credit score. The problem is that it’s pretty difficult to improve your rating when times are hard. Start working on your credit score now to put yourself in the best possible position should you require a loan to keep your small business afloat. Don’t limit your efforts solely to your business; it’s worth making sure your personal credit score is as high as possible, too.
Here are some straightforward ways to improve your credit score:
Pay your bills on time
Reduce existing debts as much as possible
Regularly check for fraudulent activity
Only use credit when it’s really necessary
4. Focus on Marketing
Marketing matters more than ever in a recession. You might be tempted to slash your marketing budget, but this mistake could prove fatal for your business. It’s vital to maintain brand awareness and let your customers know that you’re still here to serve them. Don’t let them forget about you. Stay in their minds and they’ll return once their situation improves.
It’s always worth re-appraising your marketing. Analyse previous campaigns and weigh up which ones worked best for your business. You may be able to forfeit a few practices that aren’t serving you, but ensure that you continue to concentrate on what works best for your business.
5. Retention Over Acquisition
During a recession, your existing customers are the most valuable to you. It’s fine to market to new customers but when hard times hit, prioritise customer retention over acquisition. Not only do repeat customers tend to spend more, they also help to drive customer acquisition by recommending your products or services to their friends and family. In short, when times are tough, you need to look after the people who look after you.
After-sales assistance, social media engagement and special discounts are all great ways of taking care of your regulars. Make them feel valued and appreciated, and they’ll keep on coming back. Beyond that, work on gaining an insight into customer experience so that you can continue to provide an excellent service, even as times change.
Preparing for a recession doesn’t have to be complicated. The sooner you take action, the better you’ll be able to safeguard your business. We can’t prevent recessions from happening, so it’s best to be ready for them.