Many businesses at some point will experience difficult times, often created by events outside of their control and are therefore difficult to navigate.
Over the last few years COVID-19 has created problems for most of us and now with the looming threat of the ‘costs of living crisis’, businesses are facing tricky times.
Though finding ways to navigate through these difficult periods can be a challenge, there are some practices that can be adopted to help. We have come up with some strategies that will hopefully ease some of the problems you are likely to face to enable your businesses to stay operating until conditions improve.:
Keep on marketing
You must find ways to keep marketing your products and services, you may have the best products on the market but they won’t sell if no one knows about them.
In order to survive during trying times it is important to generate strong leads - re-evaluate some of your marketing strategies to see what works and try different strategies to better target your audience.
Be aware of your competition
The more information you can gather on your competitors, the more prepared you will be in your market. Be aware of their pricing so you can remain competitive especially when selling similar quality products or services.
Be aware of new opportunities
Look carefully within the market for new opportunities. Analyse feedback from customers - can you highlight areas where you aren’t quite meeting their needs?
Keep abreast of social media posts where your products are discussed and take feedback and reviews seriously - a poor review can provide you with valuable insight. If your business sells clothing for example, maybe your range could be improved to provide alternative sizes, colours and qualities?
Always be prepared for when fortunes may take a dip and save money when times are good. If it’s too late for that then start saving as soon as you become aware that the future looks uncertain to ensure you have some cash reserves.
For many businesses, in particular small to medium ones, having insufficient cash in reserve is one of the primary reasons that they fail and extra cash also allows you the opportunity to make some high impact decisions if needed, like an expensive marketing campaign for example.
Look at your expenses and make sure they still align with your businesses needs, if not then try and remove any unnecessary spending. This may include allowing staff to work from home, which will ultimately reduce on the costs of having (and heating) large office spaces.
Connect with your business community
Make sure you stay connected to other people in business. Community is essential for surviving tough times and tapping into the extensive knowledge of other business owners could be really helpful. Just having a sounding board can ease stress during difficult times and as the issues faced are likely to be universal, the more people you know from a wider variety of areas the more you will learn.
Is your product still relevant?
During difficult economic times you may realise that the product you sell is no longer relevant and you may need to consider diversifying - pivoting is a way of coping during difficult times by changing the direction of your business.
Are there other ways of bring cash into your company? Can you offer your own services and skills to others in a consulting role for example or target a new customer base? Make sure that any steps you take when making changes are based on good solid evidence gathered from reliable data sources.
Analyse your data
The gathering and analysis of data is essential to running a business well, becoming more important during tricky times. Data analysis will provide insights that can’t be gained by simply asking people for information as data often reveals habits that people are otherwise unaware of, which can reveal trends that will enable more effective forecasting. This will allow you to make the most of every opportunity and help navigate difficult periods.
Make sure that you or someone in your company has the skills to analyse your data properly.
Keep your eye on the economy
Though watching the news can be a depressing experience for many, for those in business it is extremely important to stay abreast of economic changes and the effects it is likely to have on your business.
Take time to step back from the day to day running of your business and look at the bigger picture. You don’t want to be taken by surprise by events in the economy you were unprepared for.
If you feel like you’ve done as much as you think is possible to prepare for tricky times, look at some smaller changes.
Is your website up to date? Is it displaying incorrect information? Now is the time to make changes. Take advantage of free design tools available to save the cost of paying someone else to do it.
Keep morale high
During tough times it can be easy to descend into negativity with a resulting loss of motivation.
Try very hard to keep up your morale and that of employees; these are your most important asset. Motivated staff, even in times of great stress, will help keep your company on track. Employees with purpose are more productive which will ultimately prove essential for your survival.