When Things Go Bad

When Things Go Bad

Seems we go through some sort of economic disaster every four or eight years. Things will get better but will most likely take time. The “hope for the best – plan for the worst” principle might be a prudent guide to follow. Consider some actions and ideas that have worked in previous years.

  • Analyze, Adapt, Overcome. I paraphrased the U.S. Marines’ approach to readiness. This tactic is used more often in business than most people realize. In a critical situation, like a bad economy, this three-word directive is a way to be resilient. Look at what’s making the most positive impact on your business. Focus resources, time, and energy on that. Let go of the parts and offerings that add little or nothing to revenue. You’ll need to transform to the situation to survive. Be nimble.
  • Customers are Having the Same Problem. You don’t exist in a bubble. People who buy from you are experiencing the same downturn. Showing empathy and patience will be appreciated. It’s a way to give high-level customer service, show loyalty, and strengthen the relationship. Qualities that will be remembered in the future.
  • Cash is King. You’ll obviously scrutinize your cash flow and spending. This is the time to avoid debt and live within your means as best possible. That said, be prepared to leverage opportunities that arise as a result of the decline. Examples include price drops on equipment you need, discounts on supplies, or other purchases that will improve your bottom line or expand your business.
  • Marketing is Critical. Telling everyone about your business and to buy from you is good, right? Then don’t cut your marketing budget! That is typically the first expense business professionals reduce when things turn bad. This is actually the time to increase advertising and promotions. You’ll need new customers to keep revenue flowing in case there is a slowdown from existing clients.
  • Take Care of Your People. Your employees are feeling the effects just like your customers. It’s a concern affecting work and home lives just like you. Support your team by keeping them informed of the current status and plans to get through this. Include them to ease any anxiety. No one, including you, needs to be burned-out. Take some extra effort with your top performers to keep them positive and productive.
  • Grow Your Team. Not everyone will be a good leader, like you. The top performers from your competition might be looking elsewhere for a better position. Make the effort to see if it would be worth recruiting them. This is also a good time to streamline the hiring process for more intelligent and faster recruiting.
  • Unpleasant Choices. There will be difficult decisions. The focus is on keeping the business alive. Trim discretionary expenses that won’t negatively impact operations or morale. The hardest decision will be reducing staff. If possible, talk about it when discussing action plans with your team. They’re already thinking about it, so address their quiet concerns. If that time comes, please be compassionate, be quick, and try your best to separate on a good note.
  • Expand Your Business. While some might find this counter intuitive, this is a good time to grow into other geographic areas or widen your target audience. Your competitors might not be as diligent with their survival plan. Their customers are looking for other options. That could be you. It’s an opportunity to increase your market share. Form or strengthen strategic partnerships. Collaborate on cross promotions including shared weblinks and social media posts. Record or write a testimonial for each other. If it’s appropriate, create a combined package offerings from both your businesses.
  • You are a Priority. Taking care of yourself is the most important task. Staying healthy is even more essential when things are going less than perfect. Sleepless nights, upset stomach, and stress will take a toll. Give yourself time to exercise at least three times a week. Eat regular meals. Drink three quarts of water each day. Schedule Me Time, Family Time, or both throughout the week. Talk with your family, friends, and mentors to share your feelings and get an encouragement boost. It’s easier to manage your business, provide for your family, and have a clear mind when you’re healthy.

Dips, slumps, and downturns will eventually pass. Things we have no control over will happen, but you can take action to survive or thrive. Make a plan and follow it while being vigilant for options and opportunities. Keep a positive attitude. It’ll give you hope for the future and defense against despair. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Stay strong!

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