Starting and running a small business has never been easy. It takes a lot of grit and determination even in the best of times. And while most experts agree that the landscape has improved in recent years, there’s still a lot of uncertainty. Changes in the tax code, unrest in the Middle East, the uncertain future of the European Union, and other events can have a ripple effect that can impact small businesses in virtually every industry.
Here are five tips every small business owner can use to ensure they thrive during the uncertain times we find ourselves in today.
Tip #1: Make Sure Your Business Model is Still Viable
Remember your business plan? It’s what gave shape to your dream, helped you get your startup financing and defined your value proposition. It took a lot of hard work to create it, but if you’re like most small business owners you probably haven’t considered whether it’s really relevant to your current situation.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your business doesn’t just survive, but actually thrives during uncertain times is to look at your business model with fresh eyes. Talk with your employees, vendors, lenders and customer and research your competitors. Use the feedback and information to identify your strengths and also areas that need improvement. You may find that your business model needs some tweaking. You may also discover new opportunities you hadn’t seen before.
Tips #2: Audit Your Spending
Small businesses often have big expenses, but you might be surprised at how much you could be saving if you only knew where all that money was going. Performing a thorough review your business spending can help you identify expenses that don’t contribute to your growth. These should be cut or eliminated altogether. The money you save can then be reallocated to those that do promote growth.
You may have to make some hard choices but the time you spend auditing and restructuring your expenses will be worth the effort.
Tip #3: Analyze Your Cash Flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood that keeps your small business going. Unfortunately, cash flow problems can arise suddenly and unexpectedly due to a variety of factors. These can include downturns in the overall economy, new competitors vying for a slice of the pie, natural disasters, and others.
There are also times when your business can fall victim to the cash flow issues experienced by your customers. If they experience a downturn in business, they may be less likely to pay their bills in a timely manner; resulting in a domino effect that can impact your business.
So, what’s the solution? Make sure to maintain good relationships with lenders, regardless of your need to borrow. Establishing a good track record with your bank can make it easier to get loans and lines of credit.
More and more small businesses are using invoice factoring as a way to safeguard against cash flow problems. Factoring offers a number of advantages over traditional bank loans and lines of credit, including faster approval times and no restrictions on how the funds are used.
Whichever route you choose, it’s a good idea to have a safety net in place during these uncertain times.
Tip #4: Strengthen Relationships with Existing Customers and Prospect for New Ones
Every small business owner knows that retaining existing customers is far easier and less expensive than getting new ones. In uncertain times like these, it’s a good idea to focus on relationships with your customers. This might include offering special rewards or discounts to loyal customers but just taking the time to call or drop by and see if all their needs are being met can also go a long way towards retaining their business. Let’s face it, everybody wants to feel appreciated.
While you’re at it, you should politely let your satisfied customers know that you would appreciate any referrals they can send your way and offer to reciprocate the favor.
You should also analyze your customer acquisition processes. Focus more effort on activities that have generated results in the past, and abandon those that haven’t proven fruitful. Attending local business functions and joining business associations like the Chamber of Commerce, BBB and local networking groups are all good ways to increase your exposure and acquire new customers.
Tip #5: Review Your Marketing and Advertising Strategy
When it comes to promoting your business, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.
For all its advantages, online advertising has its own inherent uncertainties. While Google, Facebook and other online platforms are still the most effective and economical way for most small businesses to promote themselves, you should also consider investing a portion of your ad dollars in offline methods including radio, television, newspaper, and direct mail marketing.
I hope you’ve found these five tips helpful. If so, we would appreciate you sharing it. And, to learn more about invoice factoring as a way to improve cash flow, give us a call at 972-404-4726 or visit our website at www.americanreceivable.com.