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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 10:23 pm | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Is Your Business Prepared for the Recovery?

Here are six strategies to help ensure future success

When will this “great recession” — and the constant talk of it — end? Recovery may or may not be quick in getting here, but it will be coming. The tricky thing about a recovery is that it’s hard to tell when it’s beginning. There will be no sirens or bells going off saying we are out of the woods and that business can resume as normal. What I want to highlight is what businesses can do today to position themselves for when things turn around.

Here are six critical areas you need to focus on to prepare your business to profit from the recovery.

Create a Strategic Plan

What is the point of surviving this recession if you’ve learned nothing from going through it? Reflect on what has changed, both inside your organization and within your marketplace, and create a new vision based on what is now on the horizon. Strategic plans are key to managing the various aspects of a business because they help you focus on the factors that will drive success. If you’re planning for the better times ahead, you’ll not only have a better chance at surviving the current storm, you’ll be ready to ride the next wave.

Get Your Financial House in Order

You’ve got to create a firm foundation for growth if you want to participate in the upturn. Understanding the patterns of cash flow in and out of your business is a larger part of success than many entrepreneurs realize. You should be tracing and managing this continually. Doing detailed financial projections, including cash-flow budgets, will allow you to better anticipate the road ahead. You must also have at your disposal quality monthly (at a minimum) financial statements so that you can see trends in your business and plan accordingly. If you can measure it, then you can manage it.

Look to Your Customers

You may be feeling uncertain about where your company is headed, but your customers are feeling the same thing. The companies that weather economic turmoil and who will be ready for the recovery know their customers well and know how to work with them during both good times and bad. By asking your customers how they feel, what they need and how your company can help, you can establish the basis for focusing on the most important values, issues and products for your customers.

Look to Your Competitors’ Customers

Companies that invest in knowing who their customers are also can be quick to respond to opportunities to save customers stranded by their competitors. Not all businesses will make it through this downturn. One or more of your competitors may choose to retreat, drastically cut expenses and go dark. Now may be your best chance to increase your company’s market share and earn the loyalty of your competitors’ customers.

Leverage Technology

One of the best ways to stay ahead of your competitors is by keeping up with current technology. This may include using accounting and inventory software so that you spend less time on balancing the books, customer relationship management software to manage the sales process, or utilizing social media technology such as Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about your product/service.

Invest in the Right Areas

If you cut costs in the recession to better position yourself for the tough times, then now is the time to loosen the purse strings and start investing in key areas of your business. I suggest investing in the following areas:

» Employees. If you’ve got good talent and want to keep them, invest in them now. Provide them with more training as well as developmental opportunities to help prepare themselves to be the best they can be.

» Sales and marketing. If your competition is busy nursing their recessionary wounds, then you should become aggressive in marketing yourself and your products. This move will increase your market presence and pay off well after the recession ends.

» Customer service. Now is also the time to take customer service to a new level. Refine your customer service strategy to ensure that every step — from taking the order to delivering the product — is client-focused and effective.

The recession crept up on us and we were unprepared. The recovery may be slow, but it will happen. This time, there will be no excuse for being unprepared. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have been getting. Change is inevitable. Don’t let it just happen — be the one who drives it.

— Aaron Dyer is the president of Dyer Consulting Group, a firm specializing in working with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them develop more targeted and effective strategic and financial plans.

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