How To Prepare Your Business For Tough Times
When times get tough, you must stay strong. It's easy to get discouraged during a bad economy, and it's normal to feel concerned about your business growth and profits slowing down.
What's going outside your business can significantly impact the inside of your small business right now.
Some businesses fail during tough times, while others not only survive but thrive. Many successful entrepreneurs do their best work when times get tough because they understand that they need to keep working and focus on moving forward, even if it's a small step towards the goals they already have in place. Growth is growth. Understanding you will need to tweak and think outside the box to offer services and products that still pack a lot of value for your clients and help solve some of the same economic issues you have will serve everyone well—preparing well and putting your energy into things you can control to keep your business open.
Things Will Happen, How Can It Affect You?
Things can and will happen not just here in the US but anywhere in the world that can directly affect your business.
- Economic Conditions. Financial difficulties will force most people to rethink the way they spend money. They may decide to cut back or cut out some purchases. Economic conditions can squeeze the market, your customers, or you. The economy affects everyone. Re-developed your business plan with this economic downturn to determine how you will meet your customers' changing needs while your budget will also take a hit.
- Global Pandemic. We all felt the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. With people staying home, the small businesses struggled because of a lack of customers, and some closed their doors. Labor shortages, supply chain problems, and cancellations affect small local businesses.
- Climate Change. There are already disruptions in weather patterns around the world caused by climate change. Close to home or far away, heatwaves, droughts, and extreme weather can drive supply chain problems and economic hardship for many businesses. In addition, cancel events are now more frequent due to devastating weather.
- Cyberattacks. No business, no matter how small, is safe. Unfortunately, Internet and digital attacks are on the rise. Even the slightest digital attack can cause delays in communicating with clients, not to mention a significant cyberattack bringing down a city's power grid. We rely heavily on our computers, phones, and other technology to run our businesses, so we need to prepare to minimize the impact of such attacks.
- War. In any part of the world, a conflict can have an immediate and profound impact on supply chains and the global economy.
- Personal Problems. It would help if you were prepared for many potential problems when you're running a business. For example, health, financial, or personal issues in your life, or the lives of current or potential market clients, can have a massive impact on your business.
The Importance of Planning for Tough Times NOW
Often entrepreneurs mistake thinking they are safe once they open their businesses. As a result, they often get into the habit of dealing with both good and bad issues as they arise.
Being aware and prepared for the bumps and even some big potholes that will be hard to recover from is why planning now, when your resources are not strained, and your mindset is not one of scarcity, is essential to surviving tough times. Developing strategies currently that you can implement before the effects of tough times occur in your business is so important. Laying out this groundwork so you can continue to move forward, even the most minor step of slow growth, is motivation during hard times and will make the struggles less stressful.
Having the right attitude is one of the main differences between businesses that sink during tough times and those that survive.
It's essential to have a positive attitude when faced with tough times. It would be best if you met the challenges with confidence and a positive mindset. You may need to make many challenging changes, but if you can keep your mind positive and believe that things will work out for the best and take the action to keep moving the needle forward, you will come out thriving on the other side.
A positive attitude can drive motivation, and you'll need this motivation to swing and work toward solutions when things get complicated. It's easy to toss the towel and quit when the challenges seem insurmountable.
Tough times can bring on added stress, and another reason you need a positive mindset is that it will help you cope effectively with that stress. Becoming overwhelmed when you are uncertain and things seem to be changing rapidly is common. Try to have some stress reduction strategies when the going gets tough.
During any financial crunch, customers have less to spend on products and services, even if they need them. Make sure your business has a memorable brand that shows what you do and who you serve more clearly than before. Customers often continue to support brands and businesses they know and trust that meet their needs and share their core values. They know that you don't escape the financial crunch as a business owner.
Doing a brand refresh when times are good and you have the resources will make the less-than-fabbo times a bit easier because clients have been part of your growth journey. Just as when you first created your brand strategy, ensure you answer this question on the refresh. What do you want to be known for? How do your customers see your brand? How do you stand out from the competition?
Reinforce these brand values during tough times; your audience will keep buying from you even when they're in a financial crunch.
Under-Promise & Over-Deliver
To survive and thrive in today's world, you must offer fabbo value. You'll be able to attract customers if you provide a high-quality product and exceptional service with value-driven pricing.
Your customers have no reason to go elsewhere when they consistently offer fabbo value. Even if a competitor provides similar products and services for a lower price, your customer loyalty will ensure their business. The best way to offer value is to under-promise and over-deliver. Gain an understanding of what your customers expect and go above and beyond. When you do this, you create a "wow" experience. The customer feels surprised and delighted, which will keep them buying from you.
This "wow" experience can be delivered in many ways.
Here are just a couple of options: one is to offer outstanding customer services like free follow-up support or free shipping.
Another thing you can do to improve your marketing is to give your audience unexpected freebies or sneak them into the paid version of an offer, product, or service.
So put on your creative thinking cap for that "wow" to get your audience or customers hooked on your brand.
Provide Useful Help & Tips
Provide useful help to your customers, especially during a hard time. Give tips and information that serve them best with less run around to get answers to their needs. Offer updates on your site or social media channels about what is happening with current news, such as Covid-19. This allows you to offer support in terms of safety measures you are taking and how you deliver their purchases. Any way you can help support problems they're facing or help them save money or time during challenging times while still supporting you and your business. Be sure to create promotions around services or products that give customers a diversion and keep their minds off some of the chaos of the world. Use email marketing to deliver some fun, good news to their inbox.
Ramp up your Content
Acquiring new customers when times are tough is much harder because with reduces resources and budgets. Scaling back on your advertising and outbound marketing is often one of the first areas cut when times get hard. Be sure that you mitigate this by increasing your inbound marketing.
In this digital age, content marketing is one of the best inbound marketing strategies. When you publish plenty of content regularly, you'll keep attracting new customers to your business without needing the resources of outbound marketing. This is a much more effective and lower-cost alternative.
Here is where the brand strategy you have in place will help because you have been getting to know your customers and have the data to know some of the issues and problems they are facing during these tough times. Then, with this information, you can use your expertise to create content that helps them solve these issues. Take the time to make an editorial calendar so you can publish your content constantly. Then, even when budgets tighten, you'll have this content and info on your business bringing in new leads.
Survive Tough Times by being Prepared
Your business may not have been affected by tough times yet, but sometime along your journey, tough times will cross your path. None of us saw the pandemic coming, nor were many of us prepared for just how deep and long that hardship would last, and some of the things we are facing now are extensions of Covid. Stick with your plan and continue to prepare yourself and your business for success, and your customers will follow. While I often say do not give too much energy to what your competition is doing, knowing what they offer during rough times may help you come up with your "wow" experience.
Be prepared and proactive, and you'll be able to come out on the other side, surviving and thriving.
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