Published: March 23rd, 2016; by Judi Hughes

A slower economy can be a great time to grow your business

As a business owner, talk of a slowing economy might set off alarm bells, but changing economic times can also mean opportunity. The truth is; the larger economy is not something that any one business person or industry can control. But, with the right mindset, the opportunities to grow your business are there.

The economic climate and you

Although the media may offer pessimistic reports, will the economy genuinely affect what you do? Before jumping in with a new business strategy, consider not only where you might be negatively affected but also where there may be openings for growth. For businesses willing to use a little creativity and flexibility, growth opportunities will present themselves. In the meantime, there are some sure-fire things you can do to help you navigate through an unstable economic climate.

1. Revisit your road map

Revisiting your strategic plan is something you should already be doing on a regular basis so you don’t lose focus of your short and long-term goals. Reviewing these goals against the current climate will help you adjust your plan as needed.

2. Examine your expenses

When things are slow, it’s even more important to know where you are spending your money. Cutting expenses by a few percentage points can make a meaningful difference to the bottom line and to your cash flow. A caution, don’t cut expenses across the board.  Be strategic with your decisions.  You want to improve cash flow and profits and support your opportunity for growth.  Inevitably a careful review will uncover expenses to be modified and others that can be completely eliminated, allowing you to invest in areas that can help grow your business.

3. Invest time in your current clients

Changing economic times will likely have an impact on your existing client base. You already know their business and you are best suited to help them work through any changes they need to make. When things slow down, it’s the perfect time to give those clients the extra attention they deserve and remind them of the value you provide.

4. Diversify your client base

Clients who have not traditionally needed your services or products may need them now. While it’s important to keep current clients happy, you must also consider how you can use the current climate to your advantage. Even small growth at this stage can set you up for better things when the economy picks up.

5. Keep growing

Slowing economic times can also mean opportunities in new markets. A competitive exchange rate, for example, may allow you to pitch your products and services elsewhere, offering buyers a better price while enabling you to grow.  At home, this growth may come by providing a new service or product that meets the current mood of existing and new clients.

6. Be creative and flexible

Consumers are generally in a more conservative mood in slower economic times. It does not mean they will not buy, but when they do they want to feel they are spending wisely. In evaluating what you have to offer, ask yourself how you can create the feeling of a “wise spend” for your clients?

7. Go against the trend

In a changing economic climate, your competition may take a conservative approach to its marketing and expansion strategies. This provides an opportunity to stand out from your peers. Now is the time to really showcase your business and high light how you are different. You can strike better advertising deals, hire from a greater pool of available workers and target markets you might not have previously considered. It also sets you up nicely when the economy picks up.

The good news is that the economic situation will eventually improve. This is another reason why you should never stop trying to grow your business no matter how pessimistic the outlook. When things do rebound, you want to be prepared to meet the needs of clients who are once again feeling confident and ready to invest.

Set yourself up to succeed during an economic downturn!

  • Review your strategic plan.
  • What challenges could your business experience during an economic downturn?
  • With a changing economic climate, what markets could open up elsewhere for you?
  • Who are your best clients? What added value can you provide them during an economic downturn?
  • How could you modify what you are selling today to make it more attractive in a changing economy?
  • Review your financials. If you needed to cut expenses by 5% today, what would you cut?

Would you value more help? Our ‘Plan for Success’ workbook introduces you to the core principle of growing a strong and sustainable business. Click here to download for free!