No matter type of business you operate you've got to know how to keep your business alive during economic recessions. Anytime the cash flow in a business, large or small, starts to tighten up, the money management of that business has to be run as a "tight ship."
Pause Before Paying
Some of the things you can and should do include protecting yourself from impulse expenditures. We've all bought merchandise or services we really didn't need simply because we were in the mood, then we sort of "wake up" a couple of days later and find that we've committed hundreds of dollars of business funds for an item or service that's not essential to the success of our own business, when really pressing items had been waiting for those dollars.
While you may think you cannot afford it, be sure that you don't "short-change" your self on professional services. This would apply especially during a time of emergency. Anytime you commit yourself and move ahead without completely investigating all the angles, and preparing yourself for all the contingencies that may arise, you're skating on thin ice. Regardless of the costs involved, it always pays off in the long run to seek out the advice of experienced professionals before embarking on a plan that could ruin you.
Your company's books should reflect your way of thinking, and whoever maintains them should generate information according to your policies. Thus, you should hire an outside accountant or accounting firm to figure your return on your investment, as well as the turnover on your accounts receivable and inventory. Such an audit or survey should focus in depth on any or every item within your financial statement that merits special attention. In this way, you'll probably uncover any potential financial problems before they become readily apparent, and certainly before they could get out of hand.
Many smaller companies set up advisory boards of outside professional people. These are sometimes known as Power Circles and once in place, the business always benefits, especially in times of short operating capital. Such an advisory board or power circle should include a lawyer, a certified public accountant, civic club leaders, owners or managers of businesses similar to yours, and retired executives. Setting up such an advisory board of directors is really quite easy, because most people you ask will be honoured to serve.
Once your board is set up, you should meet about once a month and present material for review. Each meeting should be a discussion of your business problems and an input from your advisors relative to possible solutions. These members of your board of advisors should offer you advice as well as alternatives, and provide you with objectivity. No formal decisions need to be made either at your board meeting, or as a result of them, but you should be able to gain a great deal from the suggestions you hear.
By all means, join your industry's local and national trade associations. Most of these organizations have a wealth of information available on everything from details on your competitors to average industry sales figures, new products, services, and trends. If you are given a membership certificate or wall plaque, you should display these conspicuously on you office wall. Customers like to see such "seals of approval" and feel additional confidence in your business when they see them.
Whenever you can, and as often as you need it, take advantage of whatever free business counselling is available. Your local chamber of commerce or small business advisory will likely have numerous free publications. Most local universities, and many private organizations hold seminars at minimal cost, and often without charge. Take advantage of the service s offered by your bank and local library.
Direction Is Everything
The important thing about running a small business is to know the direction in which you're heading; to know on a day-to-day basis your progress in that very direction; to be aware of what your competitors are doing and to practice good money management
at all times. All this will prepare you to recognize potential problems before they arise.
In order to survive with a small business, regardless of the economic climate, it is essential to surround yourself with smart people, and practice sound business management at all times.