IF YOU OWN A SMALL BUSINESS, TAKE ACTION RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
Earlier this year I did a webinar and I wrote an accompanying article about my strategies for dealing with yet another crazy year. And there is no doubt that this is certainly shaping up to be yet another crazy year, but since doing that webinar, I think things have actually become a little more intense and we need to get ready.
Right here, right now, there is no doubt that we are all going to feel the impact of the cost of living increases (caused by all kinds of issues, global and local), rising interest rates, settling in of a new Government, who will most likely spend the first 6 months of their term blaming the old government for everything that is wrong without necessarily doing much, global issues, the flu pandemic, supply chain issues, staffing shortages and so on. I’m sure you get my drift.
Now I’m not trying to be negative, but one thing I’ve learned over 40 years of being a business owner is the need to be proactive before things get messy.
Take action now – don’t wait. If it doesn’t end up getting ugly, the worst you’ve generally done is become a little more organised and proactive in your business, no down side to that.
So, all of my spider senses are screaming, telling me that we have some challenging times in the year ahead. Take action right now, to ensure that your business is as prepared for what is coming as you can be. And this is may action list for you –
1. First and foremost don’t panic.
The last thing I ever want to do is trigger panic. And I hope I don’t but what I’m talking about is stepping up, taking responsibility for your business and getting prepared. Times are changing, all signs point to challenging times ahead, these will certainly impact on small business so do something about it now, but don’t panic.
2. Become an accounts detective
Keep an extra close eye on the money you are owed. Look for changes in payment patterns from existing customers, or new customers out of the blue (they might have account issues with their other suppliers and they are looking for a new one). You might have customers who are more directly impacted with things like rising power costs and if their business is not overly resilient, you could end up paying. So keep a very close eye on anomalies in terms of your customers and how they pay and how they order.
3. Get serious about your expenses
Now is not the time to start spending like crazy. Again, don’t panic, but keep a tight reign on your expenses, look for ways to save if you can and remember that the one thing that will send any business broke in a hurry is a cash flow squeeze. Now is not the time for that new Maserati – leave that till next year.
4. Don’t stop communicating with your customers.
In times of change it’s easy for us to stop communicating with our customers. We get preoccupied with worrying about what could be, to the point where it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Now more than ever is the time to stay connected, stay communicating, be supportive and stay relevant with your customers. I always say that the day an excel spreadsheet is more important than a face to face conversation with a customer, your business is already in deep trouble.
5. Ramp up your business development activity.
This is a really good time to get very proactive with your business development, because apart from anything else when there feels like there is some form of crisis coming, most business owners sit on their hands. They wait for the crisis to arrive as opposed to actually ramping up their business development. No matter how hard things may get, there are always going to be people spending, do what you can to be the business they spend with.
6 .Figure out your real cash situation
This is a biggie. How much cash have you got on hand? How much credit have you got access to if you needed it in a hurry? Do you have 6 months of operating cash? With reduced income or even no income? Very few businesses do, so don’t worry. But you need to know exactly how much cash you have got. And rest assured the banks will change the rules as needed, so don’t make assumptions.
7. Do some worse case scenarios.
Spend a little time mapping out a few of your “worse case scenarios”. What will you do if you lose that client? Or if your revenue dropped by twenty five percent? Or if your costs increase by twenty five percent? Whatever you think could dramatically impact your business, think it through. Take the fear away by really thinking more about what you would actually do if one of these worse case scenarios happened, rather than just fearing it. This is simply planning for the worst.
8. Don’t spend too much time obsessing about bad news.
Sadly we humans love to obsess over bad news – mainly because we get bombarded by it 24/7. Please don’t buy into it, don’t get caught up spending hour upon hour on social media, or any other platform filled with nothing but doom and gloom. Use your time much more wisely. Grow your own skills, work on your business, help others. Do anything else but please don’t keep watching, reading or listening to negative news.
9. Take action today (not tomorrow, or the day after, today).
OK, this kind of speaks for itself. This is happening, whether you want it to or not, if you’re waiting for evidence, you’ve already lost. Take action right here right now. Put these 9 points on a page, work out how you’re going to address each and everyone of them, today!
That’s it folks. I hope this gives you some guidance and a plan of attack. On the back of the last couple of years of COVID, the perfect storm of other issues are coming and I want you to be in business on the other side of them. And of course, never forget, that in tough times there are always great opportunities for those businesses in a position to take advantage of them.