A few years back when the economy was soaring, many business owners would think, “If I only had more time!” There was too much work to handle. They were stressed and unhappy.
Today, many find themselves with lots of time – too much of it, in fact. Business is slow. And they’re … stressed and unhappy.
It’s a classic case of: Be careful what you wish for. If they could only recapture those 15-hour workdays again! That was much better, right?
Let’s face it: neither scenario is ideal. But there is a silver lining to this dark economic cloud hanging over us. For some business owners, it has provided them with the time to reposition their business – and themselves – in the best possible place when the economy rebounds (and it will). And for those who are not affected right now, this economy illustrates that business holds no guarantees. You may have skated through these times, but can you do it the next time it happens?
So, let’s make the best of this situation – and we mean really use this time to make your business the best it can be. Here’s what you should be working on right now.
1. Evaluate your role in the business. Looking back, was your heyday really a heyday? Did you ever take a vacation? Did you even enjoy those 15-hour days? If not, imagine how you want your role as the leader to really be – then build the team that will make it happen.
2. Stay connected. Take some time to strengthen connections with your family, friends and personal network. I’m not suggesting you should take a month off, but go ahead and knock off at 4 on Friday. Chaperone that field trip. Get some rest and rejuvenate.
Strengthen your personal relationships also. Call your past customers or stop by and have lunch with some referral partners you haven’t seen in a while. Invest in existing relationships and forge new ones.
3. Learn a lesson! If you’re strapped for cash right now, let’s not let that happen again. Cash is your best friend, and it will bail you out over and over again. If cash is tight right now, jump on those receivables and manage the cash you have closely. Also look at creating new revenue streams for your business, and diversifying if your business is too reliant on one particular industry. When things start to tick up, sock away some cash.
4. Seize opportunities. It is possible to grow during a recession! If you’ve got the cash, keep a close eye on your competition because it’s no secret that many companies aren’t making it these days. If you’re in a strong financial position, you may want to look at the possible acquisition opportunities that may be out there. Most of the money in private equity investing is made on the way OUT of a recession. Click here to read about how one of Anchor Advisors’ clients recently acquired one of its competitors.
5. Tackle your to-do list. Your website, your marketing materials, your mission statement – whatever you’ve been procrastinating, do it now. When business picks up, you won’t have time then either. It may require an investment on your part, but it will be money well spent.
6. Document and streamline your processes. You will hire again when things start rockin’. Having your processes down will help you train the new folks. Writing them down will help you to streamline and improve them now.
7. Train. Training costs money – and not training will cost you money too. When business picks up, make sure your staff will be able to hit the ground running. Give them the tools that they need to stay current.
For many businesses, growth happens when we least expect it and when we are least prepared for it. So do economic downturns. But what we know from history is that businesses that focus on their future stand a good chance of making it. And the ones that focus on today … their chances aren’t as good.
Photo credit: Ben Garney