The "financial crisis" we have been dealing with this last year is something we will continue to deal with for at least another full year -- and perhaps beyond that.There are ways for small business owners to navigate their businesses through these tough business conditions and stay afloat on very dark, murky waters.
My approach has been a very simplified "Back To The Basics" approach that involves focusing on the key aspects of my business's performance. First, and foremost, is re-evaluating the foundation for which my business was created for in the first place, and that is easily described by the following motto: "PROVIDE THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE."
Based on my experiences in the business industry, I have come to fully understand that good businesses are built around great customer service. Even in times of uncertainty, which we all face currently, providing great service will bring customers back. It is vital to focus on servicing your loyal customers instead of trying to be all things to all people.
Great customer service means you should always look for ways to improve. The first place to look for these ways to improve can simply be done by canvassing your current customers for feedback, and react to it in a timely fashion. The next step that I feel is necessary is focusing on innovation. I do not mean this is a time to come up with brand new business ideas, but it is a good time to simply do things better.
By consistently looking for ways to innovate that will add VALUE to your existing business, will help you survive in the long-term.This step of innovation should not involve anything that remotely resembles any type of risk taking. Right now is not the time to enter into anything that involves taking a risk. Even though I believe firmly that running a successful business and risk-taking go hand-in-hand, now is not the time to do anything too outlandish -- unless you can see a major gain or can do it without having to rely on credit.
Another vital simplified approach is one of evaluating and addressing your company's fundamentals. A good place to start would be to ask how strong wasyour business plan to begin with? Take a fresh look at your monthly expenses and income. Are you meeting your projections? How much of a hit in income could you manage? And for how long? These are financial numbers that you must know! If things do get worse, your solid knowledge of your "business fundamentals" (not projections, but realities) will be key in finding your way through these tough times we are in. It is important to build a "contingency plan" now.