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Monday, March 16, 2009

Where Should Small Business Owners Focus In Today's Economy??

The times may be tough, but a lot of businesses are facing all the same issues they were before. And some of us are still very busy. I suspect some of your usual programs could be retooled slightly to help people take advantage of the opportunities that are the flip side of any downturn.

Put it this way .... don't panic, calm down, and think strategically. A recession provides many opportunities that only happen once every seven years or so.

LEVERAGE low interest rates, low prices, high commercial real estate vacancy rates to reprice your infrastructure and your supply chain.

ENGAGE in carefully calculated risks to finally acquire that competitor who is struggling much harder than you are right now.

TRANSFORM problems like a supplier's contract breach into an opportunity to renegotiate more favorable terms for the long haul.

Yes, we all need to be wise and frugal, but those who spend this year cowering in fear may later regret missing out on rare windows of opportunity.

Plenty of small business owners are investing in growth and expansion, preparing for new venture launches, and otherwise using this time to make wise competitive moves to come out well-positioned when we reach better days. I believe that the small business sector will drive the recovery again this time, just as they usually do.

To make things simple here's 2 areas worth focusing in on ......

1st, now is the perfect time to change your routine and stop being driven by the tyranny of the urgent, now is the time to really pay attention to working on your business, not in it. It is time to plan for the future and to position yourself for the recovery before it happens. Now is the time to put your energy, as the leader, into making sure your team is aligned and focused on the right goals .... those things that will be valuable to the business in the long term.

2nd, there has NEVER been a better time to buy another company. No company has ever grown into a large company organically. They all grow into large companies by buying other firms. Whether you are large or small, or want to buy someone smaller or bigger than you are, now is the ideal time to do it.

Fighter pilots like to say that "speed is life." Likewise, prudent business owners must believe and act as if "cash is life." Buttressing and improving cash flow should be a business owner's top priority in good times, and especially in turbulent times.

Business owners must also recognize that we are witnessing a massive deleveraging of capital - despite the current bargains we see in interest rates. Over the long term, capital will become much dearer. This will drive well-run businesses to insist upon funding only the most robust projects and spending, those that exceed "hurdle" rates in significant excess to the firm's projected cost of capital.

Finally, business owners must be wary of opportunities predicated upon significant government underwriting (through tax incentives, subsidies, etc.). Many of these will prove to be shorter-lived opportunities than the business can justify. And what the Congress giveth, the Congress can take away - often with breathtaking speed.


mrktg said...

The job of sales seminars speakers has focused on uncovering need, creating a trusting relationship, and presenting an appropriate solution. It’s ultimately about product placement and need. But imagine if your job included helping buyers manage all of the non-problem-related internal issues they must manage before they were able to make a decision on the solution.

Jeff Beeman said...

I also believe small business needs to focus on there true customer base and there local markets. Many have ventured out into the world with the Internet and some have flourished but even web based businesses can dominate in there local economy. Let’s also not forget when analyzing our positions in today’s economy to make sure we are covering the basics. Basic, solid customer service goes a long way in “Top of Mind Awareness and referrals these days. As stated in the comments; finding that need and providing that solution plus just going that extra mile and becoming a true consultant to your client or customer.

Have a great business day!
Jeff Beeman