Success in Hard Times

I saw this plant growing out of a stone wall almost 20 feet in the air on a recent trip.  It reminded me that even in the most difficult circumstances your business can not only survive but thrive.  Here are some of my ideas on how to help your business thrive in the worst of times.

1. Always be taking care of your customers.  Your customers are the source of revenue, the very lifeblood of your company.  Without revenue you can pack up and go home.  During the good times it is too easy to take customers for granted.  Make sure you are maintaining them as raving fans all the time and they won’t leave you when times get tough.

2. Budget.  You must have a solid grasp of the money going out as the money coming in.  As a rule of thumb you should have 1.5 times your regular expenses in revenue during good times.  This will allow you to save up.  My recommendation is to have 3 months revenue in savings to cover unexpected downturns.  For example, this would give you 6 months of operating cash if your revenue suddenly dropped in half without cutting any expenses.

3. Treat your employees as well as your customers. Good employees who are treated well will stick with you in the tough times.

4. Never stop selling.  As a business owner it is easy to get caught up in the minutae of running a business especially when things get rough.  One of the most important things I learned in business was that cutting costs will never replace new revenue in the long term.  Cutting expenses always takes away something, a feature, a perk; whatever it is it probably had value.  Also cutting has a limit you can only cut to zero.  Revenue on the other hand has no limits.

Remember that we never plan to fail but many of us at one time or another have failed to plan.