As the wild economic rollercoaster ride of the last few months enters yet another perilous curve, small business owners across the country are keeping a nervous eye on their bottom line. With capital investments on the downturn and credit availability dwindling in some sectors, it can be hard to stay focused on the proverbial bright light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s understandable that many small business owners are feeling helplessly adrift on a roiling sea of circumstances they had no role in creating. With so many dire possibilities lurking around the corner, it’s easy to fall prey to pessimistic predictions about the future of the IT industry and the economy as a whole.
But dire as the current circumstances may seem, it is possible for VARs and other small business owners to take proactive steps to help them to ride out these difficult times. By rejiggering your management style and temporarily juggling your firm’s allocation of resources, you can save money, shore up your stability, and ride out the current crisis. Here are a few ideas to help kick off your brainstorming session.
Turn a critical eye towards personnel management issues. On a dollar-for-dollar basis, personnel actions are some costly decisions that business owners make. Most experts advise taking a particularly prudent approach to personnel during times of economic hardship. Try to put off new hires if you’re under the gun, but don’t hesitate to cut loose team members who show no signs of being able to carry their weight.
Develop a back-to-basics approach to marketing. Marketing is a vital component of your firm’s success, but when your business is in crisis mode, it may be a good idea to scale back and stick to straightforward, proven marketing methods for the time being. Ambitious, large-scale campaigns or efforts to bolster your brand on an abstract level may unduly imperil your bottom line when you’re under the gun.
Boost your sales ROI. For most VARs, a successful sales team is a make-or-break proposition. However, in terms of return on investment, not all sales methodologies are created equal. Rein in your team for the time being, asking them to focus their efforts on a narrow repertoire of proven tactics and techniques. Depending on your business model, it may be beneficial to focus your sales resources primarily upon existing clients.
Invest in smart, targeted retention strategies. Although many experts recommend the “slow to hire, quick to fire” strategy in tough economic times, it’s also worth it to devote more resources to hanging on to your most valuable team members. With the total recruitment costs and opportunity losses for hiring a single qualified candidate often soaring into the five-digit range, a smart retention strategy can be a very wise investment, even when you’re under economic duress.
What’s your outlook on the current economic woes? How do you plan to help your firm weather the storm? Let us know in the comments.