Starting a small business can be difficult. Even when you’ve taken the hard work to get it up and running, and things seem to be going well, you can fall on tough times, whether due to a slow economy, a lack of funds or a reduction in the number is sales you make.
If this should happen to you, it is important that you stay calm, avoid apportioning blame and take action to make changes that will see your business through.
Here are some simple survival strategies that will help steer your small business through stormy weather:
Reinvigorate Your Business
Do you know why businesses like Facebook and Google are so successful? They’re constantly reinventing themselves.
Yes, the basic product stays the same, but they add extra little touches here and bring in a few changes there so that people do not get bored with them.
If your business is struggling, it might be possible for you to breathe new life into the company by taking a step back and taking a good hard look at things.
If you can determine what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be in a much better position to bounce back.
Ask yourself if you need to develop new products and services, or offer better value for money.
Do this by looking at existing data and talking to clients old and potentially new.
They will tell you what they would like to see and you can find a way to reinvigorate your business to incorporate their suggestions.
Get on the Net
Even if your business is based in the real world – maybe you’re a haulage company or restaurant – it is still so important for you to get online.
If you aren’t online, how will people be able to find you?
Gone are the days when you could advertise in the local paper or get listed in the phone book, and you’d have clients flocking to you.
Right now, the internet is the big thing, and you need to be seen on it.
If you sell a product or service, enabling customers to arrange, book and buy online is much more convenient for them, which means you are likely to see more sales, and it can be more affordable for you than running a telephone service, too.
So, if you haven’t already, bite the bullet and build your business a website.
Grace Social Media With Your Presence
Making your presence known on social media is as, if not more, important, as having your own company website.
I know that social media isn’t for everyone and it might seem like a waste of time when you’re trying to run a successful small business, but approximately 75 percent of all women and 63 percent of men in the United States use at least one form of social media.
That’s a lot of people you could be convinced to use your products and services.
Social media is also one of the most effective and affordable forms of advertising that small businesses can access, so you’d be foolish not to use it to your advantage by setting up a few profiles and engaging with (potential) clients.
Find New Ways of Financing Your Venture
If, as a small business, you’ve been relying on your own funds, a small start-up loan or small business grants, along with your profits. It might be time to start looking into alternatives.
For example, if you run freight trucks, you could get involved with one of the many freight factoring companies who buy invoices for delivered goods, which will keep you on the road in tough times. You can visit FactoringDirectory.org for more here if that’s something you might be interested in.
If on the other hand, you’re a small tech startup, producing a new app, you might want to look into peer to peer lending or websites like Kickstarter. You can find out more about peer to peer lending here if that’s something you’d be interested in.
Basically, look into new and innovative ways of securing funding to see you through tough times instead of struggling on and sticking with a formula that no longer works for you.
Make It Mobile Friendly
Customers are turning more and more to their smartphones and tablets, which means if you aren’t easily contactable via these methods, you could miss out on many jobs.
Luckily, making your business mobile-friendly is as simple as setting up a website with a responsive theme.
If you don’t know how to do this, you can hire a freelancer, who will set you up in no time at all.
Reach Out To Old Clients
One of the biggest mistakes all kinds of companies (even some of the biggest) make is that they think that old customers who haven’t used them in a while will never do so again.
This just isn’t true.
Perhaps their priorities have changed, or you now have something more to offer them that wasn’t on the table before.
So, don’t be afraid to reach out to former clients, whether it be via a simple email letting them know about your new products and services or a phone call to tell them about your new low-cost pricing options.
You’d be surprised how much extra business you can drum up simply by doing this.
Get In Touch With Your Client’s Competitors
After all, if company A needs a certain service from you, there is a good chance that their competitor, company B, will require a similar service.
Sure, they might already be using someone, but if you can make your presence known and offer them a good deal, they may be tempted to use your services in the future.
Call Past Prospects
Did a client call you for a quote and never get back to you? Did that business you were working with had to halt a project six months ago?
It might be worth giving them a follow-up call or email to see where things stand.
Don’t be pushy, but do touch base because you might just catch them at the right time to start a new deal.
Increase Your Offerings
If you make apps for people who want to track their daily calorie intake, why not branch out into offering exercise apps too?
If you sell pet food, why not branch out into animal accessories too?
If you are already doing something well, offering an additional product or service to your customers is a great way to increase your profits and give your customers more of what they want.
Just make sure that if you do add a new product or service, you let your current clients know about it because they won’t necessarily seek it out on their own!
Use Your Network
If you’re in business, chances are you’ve already built up a network of peers, employees, and clients, who could be useful to you now that you need help.
For example, if you did some good work for company A, they might just be in touch with company B and Company C, which requires similar services.
Letting them know that you’re in the market for work could pay off if you keep in touch and they know that you’re capable if they then share your contact info with company B or C.
Don’t be afraid to ask a company you’ve previously had dealings with to recommend you, if your interactions were always amicable, as most people will be more than happy to put some more work your way.
Check The Competition
If your business is falling behind the competition, it could be that you are simply not innovating anymore.
If that is the case, it might be worth studying, researching and reading up on your particular sector and checking out what the competition is doing, so that you are able to innovate your company now and in the future, which will ensure you don’t get left behind.
Get Your Priorities Right
When a business is sailing through stormy seas, and you don’t know how you’re going to get through unscathed, the most important thing you can do is keep a calm head and work out your priorities.
Work out how much money you have to spend, where it is most needed, and which things are most important for you to do if you want to keep the business afloat – then ACT.
Nothing will happen if you don’t take swift and decisive action to steer your ship back on course.
So, if your biggest priority is cutting your costs, look into money-saving measures, or if you need a temporary financial injection, book an appointment with a bank or financing company – don’t wait until it is too late.
If you do all of these things, there is every chance that your company will come through its rough patch relatively unscathed.
In fact, it might emerge from this crisis stronger and healthier than ever before!