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How To Recession Proof Your Small Business

May 24, 2008
There is a lot of talk these days about the 'R' word. Whether you believe we are in a recession or not, many of your customers may think we are and that will affect your company.

Cutting Expenses - But Not Marketing or Sales!

Some of the things that many small companies do during slow times can in fact be detrimental to the company later on down the road. For example, your first instincts will be to cut expenses. This is a smart thing to do but just be sure you are cutting expenses in the right places. Sales and marketing are not the right place to cut expenses. If you want your company to thrive you will need to continue to make sales even during the lean times. Look at your processes like billing. What are your billing terms? Changing your billing terms from say net 45 to net 30 will get your money into your hands faster and help with cash flow.

Hiring Freeze

You might want to stop hiring until the economy picks back up except for turnover in the most crucial positions. This is not the time to create new jobs for tasks that your current personnel might be able to cover.

Keep Your Current Employees Informed and Ask For Their Help

During lean times, especially when there is a hiring freeze, many employees might start fearing for their jobs. It is best to be honest with them and explain that times are slow so you are trying to cut costs.They can help you do that by telling you about anything in their department that could be cut back on to save the company time and/or money. This cooperative approach is a way for your employees to feel a part of the solution. Be sure and praise them or in some cases give them a reward for saving the company money! Tickets to a show or ballgame, a gift certificate to a restaurant, or even a free day off are things that will certainly motivate most.

Review Vendor Agreements and Negotiate Lower Rates

During lean times your vendors are most likely happy to just have your business. Many of them are willing to renegotiate your current pricing agreements just to keep your business. Contact each of them and try to negotiate a lower rate or delayed invoicing at least until the economy turns around. You may have originally agreed to the rates when times were good and maybe you didn't mind spending the extra money. But now that times are tight, you should take another look at those terms and try to negotiate a better rate.

In conclusion

It is smart during slower times to take a step back and look at your company. Cutting expenses, negotiating lower rates for services, and even holding off on new hires are all ways you can do this. Don't forget to ask your employees for their help. They know the processes better than you do. You might be surprised at how times like these can help your company work more as a team when you are honest with them about what needs to be done.
About the Author
Tamara Field is President of Apollo Hosting and CEO of Press 8 Communications. She brings years of experience as a small business owner helping prospective clients understand ways to grow their business and save money using hosted applications such as website hosting , and hosted phone systems.
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