Adapting your small business to a slower economy – tips and advice
It’s hard to go a day without reading something in the news about the state of the economy. Whether it’s interest rates rising or the cost of living, there’s no getting around the fact that in 2023 there are many doing it tougher than a few years ago. But while there are some economic challenges for individuals and businesses, it’s important to not go too far down the rabbit hole. Remember – economic conditions are forever changing, and one thing history tells us is that things can change at any point.
If you’re concerned about the economy’s impact on your business or have already experienced its effects, read on. In this article, we’ll explore ways to adapt and improve your business during slowdowns, so that when the market bounces back, your business can emerge stronger.
Take the time to really understand your market conditions
The news can often overwhelm us with negativity. While it’s crucial to stay informed, consuming every opinion piece and social media commentary can lead to a negative mindset. Instead, focus on your own business and industry to identify the real challenges you’re facing. Research might even uncover some opportunities too.
Consider the following:
- Have there been changes in your industry or customer behaviour?
- Can you identify any new, untapped opportunities?
- Are there any emerging trends that you can take advantage of?
Understanding your business’ position in the market and identifying opportunities to differentiate from competitors is crucial. It guides your marketing budget allocation and shapes your products/services.
A chance to improve for efficiency
If your business is experiencing a slowdown and you have some extra time, it’s a great opportunity to work on improving your business. Many business owners find it challenging to make improvement initiatives a priority over customer or administrative tasks, but now you can focus on executing those long-standing plans. These activities can make your operations more efficient, and this will be even more beneficial once things pick up again.
Capturing your business processes is a valuable way to improve efficiency. Documenting procedures and creating visual aids can help onboard new team members faster and safeguard against knowledge loss. It’s essential to protect your business from the risk of key personnel leaving.
AI and automation are changing everything. Explore how these technologies are used in your industry to streamline tasks like data entry, reporting, and inventory management.
Update old systems
Migrating from one system to another can be complex and time-consuming. Businesses often stick with legacy systems for longer than necessary. But new tools can speed up daily tasks, benefitting long-term business growth. These new tools are good for business long term.
Exploring different revenue streams
Consider exploring additional offerings if there is a decline in demand for your core services or products.
Service related businesses
Consider your team’s existing knowledge. Can you broaden your work to capture more customers? For example, if you’re a builder who completes new builds, think about how you can communicate your skills for property maintenance, custom carpentry, outdoor living spaces, or project consulting. Your skills and industry knowledge can be used in various ways – just take some time to think about it.
Product related businesses
Consider expanding your product offerings to include items that align with your brand and are cost-effective to source. This can help diversify your revenue streams, keep your brand current, and provide marketing opportunities through email campaigns.
Nurture customer relationships
Focus on your existing loyal customers as a top priority, as their satisfaction is key to maintaining a successful business. While acquiring new customers is important, remember that the cost of acquiring them is often higher than retaining the ones you already have. In today’s digital age, providing great customer experiences is crucial, as online testimonials and recommendations greatly influence potential customers. Take advantage of any quiet periods to add spontaneous value to your loyal customers, whether it’s offering advice, checking in on their satisfaction, or surprising them with something free. Going the extra mile for your customers and thinking beyond transactions will earn you their trust and respect, resulting in positive word-of-mouth and referrals that can significantly impact your long-term success.
Expanding B2B opportunities
Consider if your business, focused on serving end users, could also extend its offering to cater to other businesses. This can provide a consistent revenue stream with less time and management compared to direct consumer engagements. Assess whether pricing for businesses could be lower than for consumers. Estimate potential revenue against reduced margin. If the numbers align, explore this opportunity while maintaining your core business.
Keep track of your finances and budget
Regularly reviewing your finances is crucial to improving your business’s health. During quieter periods, you have the opportunity to implement cost-saving practices that can have a lasting impact. For example, consider reviewing your suppliers for cheaper options to save time and money. Conducting a comprehensive expense review can unlock savings without significant disruption.
Understand natural business cycles
Keep calm and avoid making hasty decisions based on short-term events. While it can be difficult to ignore the constant commentary on the economy, it’s in your business’s best interest to rely on concrete facts and data when making decisions. Having a long-term business plan serves as a reference point for guiding your choices.
If you need help balancing short-term actions with long-term goals, reach out to our team for advice.