With the economy in free-fall and so many countries officially reporting a recession, it would be understandable to feel gloomy about the prospects facing us in 2017.
But remember with challenges also comes opportunities.
One of the periods of greatest business diversification and growth happened during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with a shift towards more service-based and small and medium-sized venture enterprises.
It was then that entrepreneurs flourished by clearly addressing the demands of their clients/customers and discovering appropriate market niches that needed to be filled.
If challenging times bring out the best in people, then these may be construed to be great times for our entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Fortunately, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re in a unique position to not only survive tough times, but actually turn them to your advantage.
That’s because entrepreneurs have two key advantages over larger companies — flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to changing economic conditions.
But admittedly the margin for error is smaller.
It is vital to focus on key results, understand what your customers want and discover how your venture needs to develop to meet the needs of your customer base.
Here are some common sense suggestions to help you “thrive” over this roller coaster economic period until stability returns to the marketplace. I will highlight these suggestions in two parts to offer both a practical and psychological course to follow.
Devote two extra hours each day to your venture: When times get tough, hunker down and focus extra effort on your business.
Scrutinize profit and loss areas: Study your books to assess which activities bring you best return and which bring loss or generate marginal profit.
Focus on making money.
Plan: This is not the time to bury your head and wait for the sunlight. Be proactive.
Develop a 12-month strategy and be prepared to revise it quarterly.
That way you won’t be caught by surprises, no matter what the economy does.
Don’t let the long-term direction of your venture evolve on its own as many business owners will tend to do.
Look for ways to keep revenue flowing.
Review every expense, every day.
Watch your cash flow like never before, and take steps to conserve your cash.
Make reviewing your books and cash position a daily ritual.
Continually ask yourself, is every expense absolutely essential?
Cut fat, not muscle: Keep your eye on your bottom line. Avoid across the board cuts.
I recently attended the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Roundtable on the downturn in the economy and heard the expressions of doom and gloom that for those people are very real concerns.
But the most powerful message I took away was a unified cry from the attendees to support each other locally in the region, to “don’t just say that we’ll work together, let’s actually mean it — and prove it.”
That was worthy of a celebration in itself.
It’s definitely time to embrace the changes that are coming and go after it.
There is unquestionably a tremendous amount of business for you out there across the OkanaganValley — you just need to go after it. I’ll be cheering you on!