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5 Ways You Can Recession-Proof Your Business That Go Beyond Simply Saving Money

The economic outlook at any point in time can cause confusion. Is the market bullish or bearish? What if Wall Street is happy but wages aren’t keeping pace and thus customers are tightening their belts?

One thing we can say for sure is that traditional markers of economic growth and stability show the U.S. economy is improving. Hiring is up, and unemployment is down. California just posted it’s lowest unemployment numbers in more than four decades. However, there are always doubts about the economy when debt is high and many people have little extra spending money.

What are some unconventional but beneficial moves for small businesses to make in this economic climate, then? Here are a few options.

Invest in upgrades now, not later.

Typical posts about recession-proofing your business would have you save up and hunker down for the inevitable economic downturn. While saving up is always a good thing, sometimes the best strategy to meet economic uncertainty is to grow before it arrives. Growth requires facilities sufficient to sustain increased demand. Consequently, now’s a great time for your business to invest in better equipment and facility upgrades.

Make sure you line up funding before you begin a facility overhaul or equipment buying spree, however. Start shopping around now for the best funding options. Explore bank loans, lines of credit, or other kinds of financing from different sources so you can find the most competitive terms available to you.

The types of financing available to small-business owners are increasing these days. Financial and risk-management technologies are making the extension of business credit in the form of loans or revolving lines of credit more attractive for lenders. That means you’ll have an easier time securing financing now than, say, later on, if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

Add mobile payment options.

How easy do you make it for your customers to make purchases? According to a recent Bank of America report, 46 percent of small businesses were equipped to take digital payments in 2018, a substantial increase from 36 percent in 2017.

Expanding your customer base and making it easier for those customers to make purchases is one of the soundest investments you can make in your business. Leaning into digital payment technology isn’t something that’s usually at the top of the list for most companies when times are lean. With a healthier economy right now, make sure you’re keeping up with the technological times and helping your mobile customers give you their business.

Attract top talent.

If you want your business to dominate your industry or even just a slice of it, you’ll need the best possible people on your team. Figure out ways to court the best workers in their fields for open positions.

A key strategy for accomplishing this goal is to examine what your industry leaders do. What kind of compensation packages are they offering? Where do they recruit? Do they offer college internships, and are they paid or unpaid? Adopt and adapt their tactics to suit your own business.

Plan to expand.

The crash of 2008 put a lot of business plans on hold. While the economy has certainly improved, that sense of pressure and crisis is hard to shake off. And many companies have shied away from significant investments.

Therefore, an unconventional tactic may be to dust off those expansion plans. Be careful, though. Evaluate your revenue and cash-flow projections to make sure your future earnings warrant such a move. If so, then proceed with those plans if the expansion still makes sense for your business. However, remember that goals you set years ago may not necessarily fit your business today.

Attack your debt, and build up reserves.

Pay down both personal and business debt where you can. High levels of credit card debt can rack up thousands, especially with interest rates in the double digits. If you have college student loans, pay those down as well.

Also, aggressively add more to personal savings and build up cash reserves for your business. Extra cash on hand will come in handy during a downturn.

Get a professional opinion and advice about other smart money moves. Hiring a personal or business financial planner is a savvy investment. In addition, expand your own knowledge in other ways. Read books on the economy and financial planning, take a course at your local college or online, and spend more time keeping up with financial developments through news sites and financial blogs.

Finally, set realistic yet challenging financial goals, both for yourself and your business. Goals that feel like a bit of a stretch are usually the ones that keep us fired up and motivated. Write down your goals and then figure out how you can achieve them within a realistic time frame.

By John Boitnott Journalist and digital consultant

Source: 5 Ways You Can Recession-Proof Your Business That Go Beyond Simply Saving Money | Inc.com

2.14M subscribers
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3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

Pivoting is expensive, but so is making smaller changes to your business plan to address the present-day realities of your market, your customers and your company. Revising your plan and implementing those changes can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can result in considerable operational upheaval.

But sometimes that’s exactly what your small business must do to ensure future success. How will you know it’s time to re-write your small business’s playbook? Here, three key signs:

1. Your growth is stagnant.

In a startup, momentum is everything. Growth provides the resources to continue to expand, beat the competition, improve quality and service, and increase efficiency through economies of scale.

Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t afford to simply plow additional funds into advertising in order to grow. Keeping customer acquisition costs down — and churn rate down as well — is key in the early stages for any bootstrapped startup.

In that case, growth might require jettisoning — or at the very least de-emphasizing — some products to focus on more profitable products. (See Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997.) That may require you to shift employees into new seats: sales, service, operations, etc.

Do this and the result might be a ripple effect of positives: Shifting employees provides opportunities for them to learn new skills, demonstrate new talents and learn about other functional areas. Moving a few employees into different roles can help re-energize and re-engage a number of other people.

Growth could also require introducing new products or services, especially when they complement existing offerings. Complementary offerings are a great way to re-engage existing customers as well as to bring in new customers who may then purchase other products or services.

In short: If your growth has stalled, what you planned to offer may not be sufficient. So how will you know what changes to make?

Ask your customers. They’ll tell you.

2. The needs of your “ideal” customer have changed.

Every business plan includes information on the target market: Demographics, interests, needs, pain points, etc. Over time, those needs can change (or maybe they never actually existed, at least on a sufficiently broad scale).

If you’re a tech company, evolving technologies can change the way customers interact with your service. If you’re in the restaurant business, today’s hot trend can be tomorrow’s outdated fad.

More likely, as your business has grown, so too has your infrastructure — meaning the level of one-on-one service you planned to provide is no longer necessary. (Or even desired.)

A great business plan lays out a blueprint for meeting customer needs and solving customer pain points. A great business constantly evolves to ensure those needs are met and those pains are eliminated.

Stay on top of metrics like return, service calls, churn rate, etc. to keep up with changing customer needs. Talk to your customers to find out how their needs may have changed.

Then revise your plan to make sure you provide not just what your plan says, but what customers really want and will pay to get.

3. You need full-time people in freelancer seats

Early on you may not have needed — or maybe couldn’t afford — to hire full-time people to perform certain functions. Wisely, you turned to freelancers. Freelancers are great for completing specific tasks, especially when sufficient expertise or specialized knowledge is a necessity.

The problem with freelancers is that they can only perform specific tasks. They can’t step into other roles. They can’t step into other functions. Because they aren’t a part of your company, they can’t learn and grow and develop with your company.

At some point it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. While they might not currently possess every drop of skill and experience they need to succeed in the role, when you hire people who are adaptable and eager to learn, they soon will.

And then they will help create an outstanding foundation upon which your company can grow.

By: Craig Bloem Founder and CEO, FreeLogoServices.com

Source: 3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

275K subscribers
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Skills Necessary for Lasting Business Success – Steve Cartwright

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Experiencing lasting business success isn’t something you do by accident, as a business owner there are skills that you need. Even if you don’t have the skills to start with, you can develop them. Never allow the idea that you need a certain skill set to intimidate you, rather, take it as a challenge to develop that ability.

Be Able to Think and Plan Strategically

Being able to look at the big picture and develop an overall plan for success is crucial for a business owner. The reason is that a business owner needs to be able to step back and see the big picture. For example, it’s important to understand how each action you take affects another part of your business directly.

Be Able to Set SMART Goals

You can learn all about SMART goals; entire books are written about this. The reason it’s so important is that it really works. A SMART goal means that each goal needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. When you create goals like that, it’s a lot easier to develop step-by-step plans for achieving the goal.

Be Willing to Learn Marketing Skills

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a marketer, as a business owner you are. You can hire people to help you, but you do need to understand something about branding, types of marketing, and more.

Be a Sales Person

Everyone likes to say they hate sales and aren’t a salesperson. But as a business owner, you’re a salesperson whether you like it or not. It’s good to learn how sales work from a psychological perspective for your audience, so that you can deliver what your market wants and needs.

Be Organized Enough

It takes a lot of organizational ability to run an entire business. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you still need to run all areas of your business in an organized manner – whether it’s marketing, or accounting, or customer service. The way to get organized is to set up processes and use software to help you keep organized.

Be Able to Implement and Do Things

Any business owner knows the key to everything is “doing”. But you need to know which things are most important to do and which things can wait. Usually, the things that make money take priority over the things that make no difference to your ROI.

Know When to Get Outside Help

Sometimes being a good business owner who is successful means knowing when you need help. Everyone cannot be a rocket scientist. Sometimes you must hire someone to get something done. Often when you hire an expert, you’re going to experience many rewards for getting it done right the first time, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel and doing it again.

Learning the skills that you need for lasting business success will make you even more confident in your ability to run a successful business. Even if you outsource certain things, it’s a good idea to understand the lingo and a little bit of the issue so that you can ensure that you’re moving in the right direction.

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