After a long period of economic decline, things are looking up. Consumer spending is on the rise, unemployment rates seem to be going down, and businesses are opening again.
While you may feel like jumping for joy, hiring back your laid-off employees, and sinking significant investment into a shiny new venture… read this first.
Here are six mistakes to avoid:
Marking up merchandise
“Just because your business is doing better doesn’t mean your customers are doing better,” says Dr. Deb Brown, a business coach based in Deerfield Beach, Florida. “Pay attention to your analysis, your metrics and your reporting, not what is reported on television. Be careful about charging your retail all of a sudden, especially if your customers can’t afford it.”
Hiring like crazy
“Don’t forget the lessons learned in the lean times,” Brown notes. “Just because you can spend more money and hire full-time employees doesn’t necessarily mean that going back to the status quo is your best move. Instead, consider hiring a virtual assistant. You never know what is going to happen, so it is a good idea to be cautious.”
Richard Rosser, president of Rosser Marketing, a branding, design and marketing firm in Lighthouse Point, Florida, agrees.
“Get creative with staffing,” he advises. “If sales are up 20 percent from last year, it is difficult to hire 20 percent of a person. Think about hiring someone on flex time or on an outsourced basis.”
Jumping into advertising
“Don’t rush to conclusions; just because there are a few positive economic signs, it isn’t time to take out a second mortgage on your home or invest in a full-color ad,” says Brown. “In general, it isn’t wise to make any rash decisions despite the optimism.”
Work with competitors instead of trying to topple them, recommends Rosser.
“Two heads are always better than one, so try to work together with a competitor to compete with a larger company’s market share,” he says. “A lot of big companies have slashed departments and various aspects of their business. This is a great time to team up and go in it together.”
Cutting out customer service training
Your business may have gone lean during hard times, but now that things are coming back, make sure to invest in customer service training, advises Brown.
“Untrained people can kill your customer service scores and hurt your long-term reputation,” she notes. “If you are going to send people into the field, make sure to invest in training. If you can’t afford it, create a mentorship program with your top performers.”
Staying heads down
“Designate different employees to join different groups. That way, your company will have the option of going after a wealth of opportunities.”