By Michael Gunther
The roller coaster economy seems to be headed back down the hill. Many economists, multiple financial indicators and consumer sentiment all appear to point to a downward trend. Although it will not be as severe as the last, it’s anticipated to slow down the economic engine needed to get us back to sustainable growth.
This roller coaster ride is more than likely the new norm in which we will operate our businesses over the next few years. As a business owner, it brings a new level of both cautiousness and determination to ensure the growth of my organization, as well as my clients’ organizations.
We recently hosted a “State of Small Business” event at which we shared an economic survey of business owners. The majority of participants saw their businesses grow this past year, but anticipated little or slow growth over the next six months. After many conversations with business owners at the event, it was clear there was a consensus: businesses must get refocused and reenergized this next six months to maintain their sustainability.
Many of the individuals with whom we spoke expressed that they’ve worked harder than ever to keep their organizations moving ahead this year. They also said they realize that they are going to have to muster up the energy to keep it up for at least another six months.
So what’s your game plan for your business?
1. Implement a solid sales structure
It’s time to ensure your sales system, measurements, skills and strategies are solid. How is your sales team doing? Do they need new inspiration, motivation or training? How are you going to perform your sales process differently these next six months? It amazes me that so many business owners still think marketing is sales. Marketing is an important element of business but it’s not a substitute for a solid sales structure.
2. Focus your exposure
Marketing continues to be an important tool for increasing exposure, but before you spend any more time or dollars on marketing, consider who exactly you’re targeting. I’ve seen many business owners spend marketing dollars ineffectively because even though they’re increasing their activities, they aren’t directing their message toward their ideal client profile.
3. Reengage your clients and employees
Remember to show special appreciation to those clients who have continued to work with you over the past few years. You’ll maintain their loyalty and support because you recognize them for being an important asset to your business. In addition, continue to acknowledge your employees for their extra efforts and hard work. It will motivate them to get through the next wave of the roller coaster and sustain their drive and dependability. Client and employee appreciation events and activities are critical to maintaining their willingness to continue to build your company.
4. Fine tune your expenses
It may be time to review your financials. Where can you adjust expenses and projections for the next six to twelve months? Cash is king. Financing is still going to be difficult over the next 12 months, so be prepared to run your business without any additional financing options.
5. Reevaluate your vision for yourself and your business
Maintaining your vision for the business is critical. It should be driving your actions, not just utilized as the current survival mode mentality. Preserve strong mental and physical health and well-being through exercise and eating well. You’re preparing for another fight, and you have to be in top notch condition to thrive!
The Bottom Line
Think of your business as a sporting event—are you ready for round two? How do you need to adjust your skills, strategies or processes to achieve your goals? Be proactive and create your game plan to function successfully in this ‘new norm’ economy.