How To Grow Your Business In A Slow Economy
Every Business Experiences Slowdowns At One Time Or Another
Right now, there is not only a slowdown, their is downright malaise. I believe it is a collective emotional depression, fueled by the news media's relaying every message of doom and gloom possible. If it's not war, its the economy and now, sadly the grim reality of the Gulf oil spill. Not only does it paralyze us with fear, it creates a sadness that kills initiative. Seemingly hopeful messages that the economy is "about to pick up", merely slow it down even more as investors wait for everything to finally hit bottom, dropping the other shoe, so to speak.
Customers are holding off on selling their homes, buying goods and services, starting home improvements. We're cutting back, canceling subscriptions and memberships and forgoing travel. We seem to have pulled in our nets, waiting for better weather. Seems like the right thing to do.
Just remember that business is all about cycles. The wheel, albeit turning slowly, will turn upward once more. It simply has to and it will.
So what are small businesses supposed to do while at the wrong end of the cycle? Sitting around complaining and waiting for things to change is not the answer. My suggestion! Be like a farmer!
In many ways, growing a business is like growing a crop. You plant, water, weed, fertilize and wait. Crops don't grow overnight. They need time. What does a farmer do while waiting? Lots!
During the growing season, a farmer keeps very busy. The growing season is the time to sharpen tools, plan for new crops, read farming catalogs and magazines, repair equipment and refurbish the barn. Here's how you can do the same with your business:
This is an opportunity to learn that new computer application and you have wanted, needed, but didn't have time to do. Maybe it's time to upgrade your system altogether. While you're at it, update your client data base!
Plan For New Crops:
What future trends in your industry can you translate into new goods and services? This is an excellent time to do market research, conduct surveys, analyze cost benefits of previous marketing and advertising campaigns.
Read Farming Catalogs and Magaizines:
Are you up on the latest trends techniques and forecasts in your industry? When was your last attempt at continuing education? What new marketing and advertising techniques could you learn about and apply? There are lots of free tele-seminars available. You only need one new idea.
This is a great opportunity to revamp your business systems, file paperwork, create that new bookkeeping system, archive old files, review policies and procedures.
Refurbish the Barn:
While a farmer might fix a broken rafter, repair the roof or build a new holding pen, what can you do to improve the flow of your workspace? Professional Organizers will tell you that your productivity is often closely connected to furniture layout. Get your barn in order. And, if you've got something broken (computer, copier) fix it or get rid of it. Broken anything is very bad business feng shui.
These actions may not immediately appear to be business building strategies. But they are - because being pro active is so much better than being re active. During this process you will be inspired and gain new insight into what makes your business work and what does not. Don't be surprised if you become more energized and creative during this process.
The important concept here is called "Fake It Until You Make It". Studies have shown that taking action in any circumstance improves the positive outcome exponentially. In other words: It works! Therapists use it to help patients overcoming depression. Alcoholic Anonymous encourages new members to use it. It's all about stepping out and ACTING out in faith.
Believe that this downtime is a bonus to refocus on what you want for your business. Get moving and be a good farmer.
About the Author
Marilyn Ellis,"America's Organizer Coach", Author, Speaker, Professional Organizer, Business Development Coach. Her focus is on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs. If you are stuck on the rocks, lost in the fog or surrounded by sharks, she will shine her harbor light on you. visit http://www.lighthouseorganizers.com to receive a free report and/or to purchase her books.