Friday, December 5, 2008

Small Businesses - Tips for The Hard Times

All right, I cannot think of another phrase that describes our economy so well as this: it sucks. I offer these posts as examples of what is good about being a small business owner right now.

From The Pinque, Inc. Diaries:

It's a great time to be a small business owner!
Despite what they've been telling you, it's a great time to own a small business.

If you're a small business owner, you knew going in that this wasn't going to be easy. If you wanted easy, you wouldn't have listened to that little voice that told you could do something better than what everyone else was doing.
Instead, you believed in your talents and your creativity. You knew you could use them to accomplish something better. And now you can.

This is the opportunity you've been waiting for.

As a small business owner, you don't need to be afraid of getting laid off, or not getting a raise this year. Your position is secure, and how much money you make next year depends only on you.

You're actually in a perfect position to take advantage of this economic downturn. Unlike large companies, you're easily able to adapt to what your target market needs, and make sure you're meeting those needs.

That's right - your target market still needs you. That fact hasn't changed. Exactly what they need from you may be changing, but they still have goals they need your help to reach.

What does your target market need from you right now?

If you're not sure, you need to find out. Start connecting with them in the places where they spend their time and discover what their concerns are right now.

Then come up with ways you can help them solve those problems. You have the flexibility and the creativity to come up with solutions that meet your market's changing needs.

Make sure your market knows how to find you.

If they're in a panic too, your clients and potential clients are probably not going to seek you out. This is why it's more important than ever to make sure your business is visible to them every day, in multiple ways.

Begin connecting with your market on social media sites, if you're not there already. Write articles that solve your readers' problems, and publish them in places where your potential clients will read them. Launch a business blog that helps you establish an ongoing dialogue with your market, so they know you're still there and that you're listening to them.

Strengthen relationships with other small business owners. (This is where MakeMinePink comes in!)

The most powerful thing you have going for you is your relationships with other small business owners. Instead of spending energy lamenting our economic troubles, we need to encourage each other and work together to stay the course.

This is from Small Business for Beginners' Will Your Small Business Fail?:
Have you researched your market? If you’re just jumping in, without doing the research, you may end up in trouble. Sure it sounded like a good idea when you thought of it, but without background information you’re walking into a wall. What type of demand does your service or product have? Is it enough of a demand to warrant a full business around it? Is the market all ready saturated? What are people willing to pay for this product or service, and how far off the mark are you with your pricing?

One of my downfalls is my record keeping. I have to push myself to stay on top of it. Record keeping is vital, and something you don’t want to slack on. Not only will you have records and transaction for things like taxes, but you’ll be able to analyze your data to see what things may or may not be working for your small business.

The other thing many small businesses don’t have in tact is sufficient capital. When you’re starting out there are often expenses you haven’t thought of. Sure you can figure out your main beginning expenses, but what about the day to day operations? What about when things come up? If you don’t have immediate access to funds when you need them, it can be detrimental to your business.

Lastly, many small businesses don’t have a marketing plan. They go about all details of their business and just assume that people will show up. My friend, if you don’t have means to grow your business, and gain new customers, you’ll eventually stagnate and your business will no longer thrive. Marketing is a crucial element in building the success of your business.

Avoid common pitfalls, and your small business will have the chance to survive longer than most!
Even more cheering may be this cartoon.

Less cheering is the knowledge that we live in perilous times. I see it in my own business and the business of my clients. Legal problems will increase and budgets will be strained. Letting legal risks mount only results in greater costs to the business. If your current lawyer only offers hourly billing, then you need to give me a call. And if your business does not have a lawyer, call and let me see what I can do for your business.