Make your business a winner

Do you believe your business will ride out this tricky economic climate doing the same as usual? Probably not. Perhaps you’ve already decided to ‘batten down the hatches’, cut budgets and let people go. But is that really the way to ride out the difficult times and ensure your business continues to be successful?

No matter what the climate, people will still buy what they want and need. The real battleground will be the value people feel they are getting. And the winners will be companies who take the opportunity to build a really strong organisation.

Thriving in a recession

While there’s still a demand for goods and services, there’s still a market. In a recession, badly-run companies will tend to go under, which will mean less competition and more real demand. Take advantage of this and your business could well end up even more profitable. Some businesses thrive in every recession and come through stronger than ever. Make sure yours is one of them!

You will need to manage credit control and cash more tightly than ever. But don’t take action that may damage your business in the longer term. Cutting all external costs, such as marketing spend or staff development budgets, is a typical ‘knee-jerk’ response to recession, but at best a ‘quick fix’. You’ll pay for it in the longer term when your customers have forgotten you and your best staff have left! Keep some healthy cash in the business and use it wisely.

Eight ways to deal with the downturn

  1. Market yourself: Get out there make sure people know you are there. Find out what your competition is doing and better their offering. But don’t panic and immediately drop your prices – people will sense your lack of confidence.
  2. Communicate: Engage your staff in the game of thriving in this more competitive period. Give them clear targets and goals. Work with them to build tight budgets and make them accountable for delivering them. And talk to them – find out what they need to be motivated, and provide it!
  3. Negotiate to maintain healthy finances: If times get tougher, you can do deals with your suppliers, the VAT man and your bank – as long as you talk to them in good time, and keep them well-informed.
  4. Focus your resources on sales: If necessary adjust your marketing mix to respond to the new market conditions.
  5. Enhance key people’s skills: Provide coaching so staff are comfortable and credible discussing the economic situation with customers. Train them to focus on the customers’ specific recession-related challenges, not their own! Make sure they know how your products and services contribute to your customers’ bottom line and how to create specific value propositions that will compel customers to listen and then buy.
  6. Build a strong, cohesive management team to provide direction: The most common reason successful people leave their organisations is poor leadership.
  7. Measure and improve your effectiveness: Plan rigorously around your key metrics, and monitor and refocus regularly. Inspire your staff with common goals, and reward the behaviour you seek. Staff who weren’t productive in a good economy are unlikely to be productive during a recession. You know who they are; give them clear targets and focused training, but if they still don’t buy in to or work towards your goals, let them go.
  8. Take extra care of your customers: Most important of all, provide exemplary customer service. It will never be so important to keep the customers you already have!

Protect your business

It’s not easy; it requires visionary leadership and a courageous attitude to provide a healthy culture where employees can deliver what the organisation needs, not just to survive, but to thrive.

While there’s nothing new here, and this is what companies should be doing all the time, the opportunity for you right now is that many companies don’t!