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Friday, November 28, 2008

Speak Out!! What Is The Effect Of The Economy On YOUR Small Business??

Here's your chance ..... SPEAK OUT!!

The economy is a mess ... everyone is hurting .... small businesses are no exception. The current recession may go even deeper .... some even fear a depression if things aren't "fixed" and soon. The strength of ANY economy is the small business person.

So ......

What is the economy doing to YOUR Small Business?

What are YOU doing so your small business can survive??

What ideas do YOU have to make things right for small business??

If you had the chance ... what would you say to the "politicians" about the mess they put us in AND what they REALLY need to do for small business??

Your voice should BE HEARD .... tell the world what you think .... reply with your comments!!!!!

20 comments:

Annonymous said...

In this economy it's critical to complete a SWOT analysis for your business. Once completed spend time identifying strategies to address each quadrant in your SWOT analysis. Typically, business owners only complete a SWOT analysis during the business plan phase. I recommend completing one yearly during an annual business plan process. The process should include forecasting cash flows and income statements for the upcoming years, additionally, include a scenario for the identified threats and how you'll mitigate each.

During these challenging economic times review your fixed costs and identify strategies to reduce these costs. Examples include: Salaries, Insurance, Buildings/Utilities, etc. Also, work diligently toward improving your variable costs. Analyzing both your fixed and variable cost month to month and identifying what's driving the changes will not only help you better understand where you're spending your money but also give you peace of mind.

Annonymous said...

I got rid of most fixed costs when possible and tried to substitute for some cheaper alternatives which I rent instead of own.

It's not that I really needed the change at this time, but I suppose it does not hurt to question oneselves from time to time and be prepared for when things get worse.

Annonymous said...

An answer from my side as owner of a small company trying to deal with the crisis that of course effects the sector. 1) do not passively accept the crisis: in reality this is a very exciting moment in which many things are going to change, and probably many aequilibria are not going to be the same anymore. This is the moment in which the ones who follow the events and anticipate the trends will be the winners in next economical cycle. 2) Increase experimentation, PR, personal contacts leveraging the new ossibilities offered, again for preparing for next phase with a network of active people sharing same vision; 3) carefully control cash flow which is now the highest risk element for small companeis survival. It is a recipe but is also what I am doing now.

Kim said...

It is a complete mess. In the last year our sales have dropped horribly. The only thing that is saving us at all is we found http://bonanzle.com to list on now instead of paying the fees to list at eBay so now my sales this last month did not have a big chunk of fees out of them.

Our Amazon sales suffered horribly the last two months but today had a big pick up. We can only hope it keeps up.

We have lowered prices and basically have tried selling everything instead of just collectibles and vintage.

Times are hard and everyone is having to change how they do things and prices to keep going.

Annonymous said...

My Advertising Business is Booming. Long ago, I found out how to survive in hard times. I help my clients to Fight and claw to get their Businesses Noticed.

First of all, you have to set your Ads apart, do something extrordinary to get noticed, that is what my Wordsearch Adz are designed to do. They work in various ways to attract attention.

First they are Unique in appearance, then they are interactive, keep potential customers focused for 1/2 hour, Tell a story, compel the reader to read each word.

Now, what would I say to the Politions In Power? Oh Boy, I would really let them have it. I would say that each Tax Payer, Senior Citizen, Govt. Benefit Program receiver, needs to be given a Stimulus Check in amount of $500. The difference is this is only cashable at a merchant with a Federal I.D. Tax Number. In order for the merchant to cash this check in, he would have to submit a Fed I.D. Number to a Central Office. This would stimulate the economy and provide a check tracking system at the same time.

John Snyder
Prof Wordsearch
Ad-Vantage Advertising "Pioneers In Advertising"
"Innovators In Fund Raising"
http://www.profwordsearch.com

tamararoe said...

The economy is the reason why our our companies are doing so well with so many people joining-low memberships, great business models, one company enhancing the other (or people can work their current company with one of ours), ethical owners, people that really care about each and every person, and much more. It's very rewarding to be involved with companies that are helping people in so many ways, plus there is no competition!

annonymous said...

How can most small businesses thrive if they can't even survive? First and foremost, those who take the leap into business should be rewarded and not punished for doing so. It is the government's greed and desire to control that is crippling start-ups and small businesses from the get-go. We need successful small businesses as well as failing ones. The process of trials and errors results in a survival of the fittest. Everyone –on macro-economic as well as micro-economic level- is well-served by anyone who starts a business. The beauty of the “free market principle” is that anyone can start up a business anytime he/she desires so. But one cannot start a business with intentions only. One has to have the means to do so. The government should be working with some particular investment firms to set up a structure of funding small businesses and start ups.

Venture Capital firms only pick potential homeruns, and even their hedging investments need to undergo intense scrutiny. Once the government understands that even failures contribute to the economy, and once it understands that supporting the small guys (and girls) is crucial for ongoing invention, progress and development for the country (if not in a cyclical manner), we will start appreciating entrepreneurism. A loan program for small businesses and start-ups must be developed that focuses on more pro-active support, especially when the going gets tough for the entrepreneur(s). The government should make available a $100 billion budget (to be spent over a period of 5 years) for trial and error by small businesses.

Also, no small business owner or entrepreneur should risk losing ALL of his life savings and his house or assets. The government should step in (with an additional $100 billion budget) at critical times, e.g. bail out those whose house or life saving is at stake. There may be cynics who think that above proposal would lead to unprecedented start ups because the risks of entrepreneurism would be greatly reduced. But that is exactly the key component of progress and development. If someone wants to serve a particular market or compete with some other business, the government should reward him/her. There are also other facts to consider when it comes to small business, including but not limited to rules and regulation, federal and state taxes and monetary incentives. Last but not least, small businesses should be allowed more flexibility than the SEC’s Regulation D offers in terms of raising funds and selling equity. No matter what lawyers say and what the SEC states, there is too much of a hassle surrounding fundraising matters for small businesses. I have clear ideas of how to overhaul that system. Barack, give me a call!”

annonymous said...

If anybody has started willingly a business, he has to take risk. Then comes the question of risk apetite. It is based on the plans, capability and networth of the individual.

For any small business to succeed, the enterprenuer needs to be innovative, artisan and be master of the core business activity he/she has started. Only then one can cut the costs and only then one could survive and then thrive. The business owner should expand based on the investments, current revenues and prospective business. Unless there is balance of all these three for which the business owner is solely responsible, the small business cannot survive forget about thriving. Being an enterprenuer do not blame Govt policies or expect support from Govt or external agencies. The business owner knows the status of Govt support even before starting the business. Therefore mid of the travel, blaming somebody else for not extending support for survival is completely wrong.

To cut the long story, for a small business to thrive, the business owner should be capable in creating the "value add"(his business brings), control the costs to create the "value add" and then market the value-add/business. Ofcourse lastly the LUCK.

annonymous said...

The whole idea of a capitalist environment is risk and reward. If the government creates a safety net (AIG) then it is no longer the same system.

I previously built a small business empire from scratch myself. The fear of losing everything is what motivated me on a daily basis. I put everything on the line- my house, my livelihood, my credit- to make it work. And it did. But I knew going in that it was a gamble, and that even folks with a strong plan and a great work ethic fail through no fault of their own. I think that is what makes a strong culture and a strong economy.

When government steps in, we move ever (dangerously) closer to socialism. So although I empathize with the issues that small businesses face, I don't think that government subsidies are the answer. What is? I don't know what the right answer is, but I think that in the future we will see new business models and private funding.

annonymous said...

This country is built on the small business. The majority of Americans work for companies with fewer than 500 employees. The tax burden on small business is immense, reducing the reward (through our progressive tax system) while increasing the risk through constantly expanding and burdensome over-regulation.

Nevertheless, I completely disagree with you in terms of bailouts to cushion or save the collateral leveraged for small business startups.

I am in favor of incentivizing small businesses through the tax system for companies who hire employees, especially the first 10. This encourages the startup business to hire, get people out of the welfare system and reduces at least some of the burden to help small businesses thrive. There are some programs that attempt to address this, but not comprehensively enough.

annonymous said...

The real issue is what can the government do to encourage entrepreneurship? My first suggestion is to get rid of the idea that our income tax system needs to be progressive. The common wisdom is that rich people don't pay any taxes, and poor people foot the bill. According to the IRS' own statistics, however, that is simply not true. The top earners pay a much larger percentage of their income in tax than the earners at the bottom. The individuals who are taxed the most are typically small business owners. A progressive tax system discourages class mobility, which is precisely what small business owners hope to be.

annonymous said...

You want the government to reward you for starting a business! LOL. How about having your customers reward you with their business. I want my business to survive and thrive on my ingenuity, good customer service and the skills of my employees, not on a handout paid for by my neighbor.

You sound like one of those people who truly dosn't understand where the Government gets it money from, it's really really simple, they get it from the taxpayers, business and individuals. I don't want to subsidize your business and I don't want you subsidizing mine, and while we are at it I don't want my share of the $700B on the table used to prop up failed businesses regardless of how big they are. Let them fail, yes it will hurt for awhile but in the long run we'll be all the better for it.

annonymous said...

I think we need more than anything is public accountability in corporations.
The "Corporation" was created be the people and it should be beholding to The People. Rewards for hiring, playing within the rules, returning value to the community and jail sentences for those who can't live up to those standards. Large corporations have a distinct advantage financially and politically over small corporations. Large corporations have created this financial crises which has affected financing for small businesses.
Leveling the playing field would be of more value to small businesses.

annonymous said...

There is only one way I know how to make sure that the cash-flow remains positive, which is to close more sales and close them at higher prices. One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we misinterpret the bad news "out there" as bad news "in here" - in my business. In the end, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that we ignore the reality, which is that the world economy is the worst it has been in decades and it's probably going to get worse before it gets better. All I am saying is that in the midst of problems there are opportunities. And if we are not looking for them, we will miss them. If we look for them, we will find them.

I think we need to get back to the blueprint of our business and carve out new niches for our businesses that we did not see before. We need to be flexible in looking for new sources of revenues. We need to do more to look for new business, not less. We need to find more ways to service our customers and add value to their businesses. We need to innovate more and come out with new products and services. We need to reinvent those parts of our business that have become stale. We need to keep moving forward, not stop moving out of fear.

This is probably sounding like platitudes and wishful thinking.

annonymous said...

In our company we've tightened up the time frame and focus in the planning process. Our business plan, coupled with a regular plan vs. actual review, is like the dashboard for our business. We know our burn rate by heart, and we watch the comparison of revenues to burn extremely closely.

Some of the dials we watch are obvious: cash balance is number one, but also the generators of the cash balance, including sales, costs, and expenses, collection days, inventory turns, and payment days, etc. And the key ratios, current, quick, and acid test. Those are obvious.

There are always other metrics, specific to each business, that are good predictors; and we watch those more carefully now, meaning more frequent reviews of plan vs. actual results. In our business those metrics have to do with web traffic, pay per click, SEO, sales through channels, incoming calls, support incidents, etc. Other businesses will have other business-specific indicators.

All of this centers in on the business plan, which we keep up to date and review and track. When times are tough, we look at the plan, its assumptions, and track results more closely, and more frequently.

It's a lot like steering, with the planning process as the steering wheel. When you're driving a difficult stretch, you hold the wheel well, stay focused on the driving even more than normal, and avoid distractions more than normal.

annonymous said...

As a service provider our biggest challenge is obtaining a constant inbound flow of prospective clients. We network as much as possible, we ask for referrals from our existing clients, we always keep abreast of our industry's technology, we use online resources because there is almost nothing that is not available online, we generally do the research ourselves, and we outsource what we can so that we concentrate on what we do best which is marketing. That is how we founded our business and it has faired well for us even in this recession.

annonymous said...

1. Market segments with bigger possibilities for developing profitable initiatives as an entrepreneur in a recessive economy.

2. Role of the regulations, taxes and laws and their potential of affecting the financial profitability of an entrepreneurship in times of crisis.

3. Fundamentals of effective marketing to create a successful branding strategy to gain market share and positive recognition to be competitive in shrinking markets.

4. Employee engagement strategies to assure both the attraction and retention of suitable professionals in an highly competitive market facing an uncertain landscape.

5. Deployment of technology platform with the economies of scale needed, that allow both the reduction of operational costs as a sustained increasing of productivity assuring at the same time, business agility from a long term perspective.

6. Role of the innovation applied to products, processes and services to gain competitiveness and consolidate an effective differentiation in relevant niche markets.

7. Role of strategic planning in delivering operational excellence, financial profitability and business agility with strategic alignment in a business context highly volatile and uncertain.

8. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and benchmarks relevant in monitoring the competitiveness of a small business in recessive economies.

9. Proved strategies in attracting, retaining and engaging employees in small businesses, when they are uncompetitive regarding to bigger companies.

10. Taking advantage from organic growth in small businesses to achieve economies of scale to gain and sustain competitiveness in competitive markets with higher consciousness of costs.

D Elms said...

I truly believe in marketing and in trade shows and events in particular as highly effective face-to-face marketing - those who market during a recession keep their clients and get new clients from those who do not!!!!

Negative impacts for us -
> People are concerned that "fewer people are attending shows"
> Businesses hesitate to start exhibiting who might have otherwise
> Businesses want to "get by" with the exhibits they have, longer
> Business is concerned about reducing the expenses of trade shows

Positive twists (and reality)
> Fewer attendees at a trade show can be used to your advantage (fewer tire kickers)
> Fewer exhibitors at a trade show definitely is an advantage
> Exhibitors can get more support from shows with co-marketing etc
> We offer graphic design - design refreshes of existing exhibits
> We specialize in light weight, easy to use products so businesses can spend less on shipping, drayage, storage and setup

Below I'm including links to 2 newsletter articles on these topics, to help people decide what is best for them, if they are wondering about these issues, and how to proceed. Includes a lot more than outlined here!

The links go to these articles (1) 7 Reasons Why Trade Shows Are (Even More) Important In A Down Economy and (2) 10 Tips for Saving $ on Trade Shows & Events During Economic Downturn

Best of luck to all who persevere - "Thrive in '09" !!!

Deborah Elms
www.ImprintedOriginals.com

Links:

* http://www.imprintedoriginals.com/pages/trade_show/trade_show_tips-8.htm
* http://www.imprintedoriginals.com/pages/trade_show/trade_show_tips-10.htm

alan said...

Michael

My grandfather on my Mother's side of the family was a butcher during the depression, and he did well because even in a depression, people need to eat.

Headline: 10.6% unemployment rate

Hidden fact: 89.4% employment rate and this means there's still people generating revenue and needing products and services.

So what's the product or service offered?

For me, it's search engine optimization - an ideal need for business owners who must find every way possible to maximize return on investment. Why pay thousands of dollars for old-school "traditional" marketing methods over and over again, when a one-time up-front expense with ongoing smaller expenses can result in first page Google placement and thus bring more highly qualified leads and customers?

That's the key to my business flourishing through this economy. Beyond my ability to communicate gratitude for.

Anonymous said...

I think that it depends on the business, honestly. It's not a good year for creative services but it's good for the people who sell or provide the necessities.

It's also about how you market yourself in this economy. Everyone (recession or no) is looking for deals.I work for a credit consulting company and we offer free credit counseling and we don't charge you until we actually get what we set out to do done (erase proven inaccuracies. People love that so our business isn't largely affected. Food places catch on with "recession specials" so I think if we keep those ideas in mind we (as businesses) can survive.

Stacy Evans
icreditinc.com