Much of what is written about the economic downturn focuses on the harsh realities of cutbacks, layoffs and even bankruptcy. There is no doubt many businesses have been adversely affected already and I suspect more will be as 2009 unfolds.
However, the silver lining in all of this bad economic news is that opportunities for long-term growth are also being created. Now, I’m not one to suggest business owners prey on the misfortunes of others, but there is no question that many nimble small businesses can benefit from the current state of the economy in several very tangible ways.
Acquire your competitors
When the market roars along, even shaky businesses can seem healthy. When business slows and customers start to hold on to their money, weaker competitors often fold up and send their customers fleeing for more stable providers.
Upgrade your staff
It’s no secret that many very talented folks are being shown the door at large corporations across the land. Some of those very talented, very experienced folks will turn to small businesses as a healthy alternative. An unprecedented pool of talent is available and eager to join the ranks of the small business.
Cut your advertising expense
Generating and closing leads is a big part of the equation, but some firms will find they can also improve their bottom line by simply paying less for advertising. It’s a tough market right now for print and broadcast outlets and wholesale buys of 50-90% off boom-time rates for print, radio and television ads are commonplace.
Focus on what you do best
This is actually a survival mechanism, but I list it as a benefit in disguise. In order to stay on course during down times, small businesses must focus on their core competencies and products. This is no time to dabble in this week’s new strategy, it’s time to get better instead of getting broader.
Start to build one or all of the above into your 2009 plans and you might get a glimpse of the power of potential opportunity right around the corner.