Small business owners are bound to experience a few financial hiccups here and there; it’s just part of owning a business. How you handle these road bumps can often determine how successful your business will be in the long run. Will you be unprepared and barely make it day-to-day during these rough patches, or will you have a plan ready to go in your back pocket?
You can’t always predict when money’s going to be tight, but you can prepare for when the time comes.
Keep your customers (and employees) a priority.
Customer service is often number one for customers when looking for the right place to give their business. People have been known to drive a little further or pay a little more if they’re made to feel like a regular. It’s worth it to go out of your way to make your customers feel special. You can easily achieve this by hiring kind, genuine employees. Customers can typically sniff out a fake positive attitude, so hiring good people and keeping them happy is worth the time and effort. On that note, keeping your employees happy generally leads to keeping your customers happy. I know troubling economic times are stressful, but don’t take it out on your customers or employees; they’re who’ll keep your business afloat!
Don’t wait to take out a line of credit.
If you can help it, don’t wait for a bad economy to take out a line of credit. You may not need working capital right this second, but you could need it in a year if the economy turns sour. Remember that with credit lines, you can borrow up to a specific amount, and you can keep drawing funds and repaying them as you like, but you’ll only get charged interest on what you can actually borrow. This can especially be ideal for seasonal small businesses that have slow portions of the year. No matter what kind of business you run, the flexibility of getting money in a pinch is a great option for small business owners.
Be careful with your marketing.
In financially troubling times, paying attention to ROI is so important. Online marketing can be very expensive and can get away from you quickly. Whether you’re looking at SEO, SEM, display, retargeting, ads or press releases, it’s important to make sure you’re tracking your online spending and the return relative to that spending. Don’t let the marketing budget get away from you. If you already know which marketing efforts work best for you, stick to those during a downturn. If you’re not sure which marketing methods will do the most for you, I suggest tracking your individual efforts in different trial periods. Track the clicks and interest you get using a specific press release service. Do the same with Facebook advertising a couple weeks later. Repeat until you find the best marketing methods for your business. Really pay attention to the time, effort and money you’re putting into these methods and see what works for you.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation and Deborah at @deborahsweeney.