We all struggle when the money goes to ground. For an economy to flourish, people need to keep spending because we are all interdependent. So when times are tough, people tend to sit on their cash and then everyone starts to feel it. Certainly, with a new government and now the freeze on spending, we are all starting to feel it.
What can we do to reverse this trend? To break through as business owners and to create the next wave?
Here are my five tips to help you to thrive in a downturn:
- Tune in to what your customers are saying they need. Did you get that? What THEY NEED, as opposed to what you want to give them.If you are selling what they need at a rate they can afford, you will always have a supply opportunity. So perhaps it is time to do a customer evaluation and find out what your customers are needing so you can offer what they need.
- Invest in upskilling and product development.When things go to ground and the demand tapers off, that is a time that you can invest in you and your team. I remember with the economic downturn in the US. Warren Buffet said that people were putting their cash under their mattresses but he was spending. He said that was the time to invest. That was the time where there was potentially the biggest risk but also the biggest opportunities for gain.
- Stay in your laneThe tendency is to add services outside of your current specialisation, hoping to pick up more clients. However, this waters down the perception of you in the marketplace, especially if you are a master of your craft. You may need to become creative about how you reach new clients or how you service your current clients (see point 5 below). Running some special offers may entice people. Alternately, it might be a good time to have the well earned holiday you have been dreaming about but haven’t had the time to go on because you have been so busy!
- Do the little things that make the world of difference.You can’t beat good old-fashioned best customer service in the business. Once again, this is an opportunity to talk to your clients and find out what they are thinking about the service you are giving to them.
- Be creative.
One of my clients came up with a way to GFC proof her business. She owns a large furniture store in the country. She had just built a new house, so she had a photo shoot of the house with furniture from her shop and she sent off expressions of interest to magazines. She got picked up and invited to then do an interior styling magazine and over the next couple of years, she introduced interior styling to her business. She put out a book about interior styling, which placed her as an expert in the market. Then she ran workshops in her store, which introduced people to her products and her own skills. She built this business up and now goes into people’s homes and does staging for selling their homes, plus also does interior styling. Not just in her hometown but in surrounding towns as well. She has created a whole new arm to her business that has brought customers in from all over the state. This was a natural addition to her business and for her as an individual.
Don’t take downturn personally. When money is scarce and people stop spending it is not because they hate your business. They just are not spending. This is why you need your business to be that irresistible offer.