Many business owners are used to right sizing their operations during difficult economic times. To help your business thrive in a challenging economy, consider the following strategies:
1. Market more for less. Develop tactics to focus your marketing efforts. For example, try new and less expensive solutions for reaching target audiences, such as satisfaction surveys to collect feedback and engagement, search engines, blogs, public relations and partner marketing. Consider the following marketing tactics:
2. Protect and grow high-value market niches. All markets and customers are unique in terms of profitability, health and potential. These three actions can help you grow high-value markets:
3. Cut non-strategic expenses, not value-added expenses. Spending is one area you can control. It’s important to know the difference between strategic and non-strategic costs. Strategic costs are directly linked to product quality, excellent service, new sales or a feature or service that gives your business a defined competitive edge. Tips related to expenses are as follows:
4. Invest in productivity and systems. Productivity initiatives maximize resources such as people, technology and business “know how” and the savings continue annually. To improve productivity:
5. Strengthen cash flow to protect your assets. A challenging economy often poses real risks to your cash flow. Tighter cash management helps you improve cash flow and business value. A cash management expert can help you identify ways to speed receipts and slow payments, better match expenses to income, smooth out the swings of cash flow and identify options for investing spare cash when available. Cash flow tips include:
6. Develop strategies to take advantage of economic conditions. Economic uncertainty often creates a “buyer’s market” for labor, goods and credit. Two-thirds of business owners view an economic downturn as an opportunity to get customers, employees and supplies at value prices. If you have the financial strength to invest with an eye on longterm return, you position yourself to benefit “from the silver lining” of economic challenges. Tactics to take advantage of a down economy include:
7. Communicate more with customers, employees and partners. Talk to everyone involved in your supply chain—suppliers, advisors, partners, customers, employees and bankers—about the realities of a challenging economy. It is more important than ever to communicate and maintain trust among suppliers, customers, lenders and employees. Benefits and strategies for improved communication include:
About SunTrust Business Owner Research: SunTrust surveys small business owners and advisors as part of its ongoing business seminars and symposiums. The small business owners attending these events include both SunTrust client and non-client business owners and are representative of the broad spectrum of businesses located in the SunTrust markets. The research cited in this report is extracted from these 5,425 small business owner surveys collected between 2007 and 2011.
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