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Managing Your Business Through a Recession

Jun 27, 2008
You have been running a business and you're doing well. However, the economy begins to falter, and recession looms. What can you do to maintain your market share and your income? It is during a recession that your income has to be at its most stable, so how do you achieve that while everyone around you starts to panic?

80/20 Rule

First, you must focus on your core business, and make sure that you remain focused on the products and services that are making you most money. This is where the 80/20 principle has to be strictly applied. You know the theory: 80% of your income comes from 20% of your customers, or 80% of your wastage or scrap comes from 20% of your products.

Focus on your customers first and waste second. You have to identify the 80% and 20% factors so that you can plan your cost cutting strategy going forwards.

Change Your Product Mix

However, also keep in mind that during a recession people sacrifice luxuries, and this might mean some readjusting of your business focus from luxury goods to essentials, from expensive products to their cheaper equivalents. What you should do, therefore, is to diversify into products that would be more practical at times of crisis.

Marketing

Guerilla marketing tactics also work better in recessions, and you have to get the maximum benefit from the resources that you have. That means negotiating as hard as possible for marketing and advertising, and making best use of what marketing is carried out. You cannot just stop marketing your products or services, but make sure that the expenditure you do make brings as much return as possible, and pause the advertising campaigns that focus on building a brand.

Retain Existing Customers

Although it seems perverse during a recession, discounts to customers can often help to maintain the loyalty of your more important customers. Some of your competitors might try to take advantage of financial squeezes to wrestle your customers from you, and this is one way of preventing them. What you must not do is bad-mouth your competitors, because nothing is more certain to lose you business than that.

This is a good time to strengthen bonds with existing customers and clients and who knows: you might be able to help them through these difficult times, and then they will show their appreciation to you once the good times come back.

Reduce Labour Costs

Staff is another area where savings should be made. It's not easy to let staff go, but sometimes essential. You could convert some full timers to part-time contracts temporarily, and retain the brightest and best workers full time. It might have an adverse effect in the short term but it will increase your chances of surviving any economic downturn.

Cut Down on Waste

Budgeting of consumables is another area that can be tackled, and even paper supplies mount up over a period of time. Calculate savings in terms of annual rather than daily. OK, you might only save 50 daily, but that is 18,000 annually, in what ever currency you work with. The same is true of time. Reduce the number of hours worked in overtime and manage your staff better so that you still get the work done.

There are many similar savings to be made that in themselves contribute only a little, but when taken together over the course of a year can equate to considerable cash saving. Do that and also focus on your core business, or that part of it that is most profitable, and your business stands a better chance of withstanding anything the average recession can throw at you.
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