Since the 2007/2008 global recession things have been getting harder for many entrepreneurs. This is more so for small enterprises which have to contend with emerging competition accompanied by more stringent lending practices. Already the World Bank has revised its global economic forecast for 2016 again indicating things will get even harder over the coming months.
In its World Economic Outlook (WEO), IMF predicts a weaker first quarter, increasing inflation and other challenges that will negatively affect the world of business. As a business manager you have to deal with all these challenges if you want to grow your operations in the backdrop of diminishing resources.
When money is tight there are two ways of dealing with the situation; you can either get complacent while waiting for the global economy to correct itself or you can become proactive and create a long-term strategy to help your company wade through the tumultuous times. According to the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA), over 80% of businesses which collapsed during the global meltdown in 2008 had no long-term plan to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Surprisingly most of those affected were financial institutions which should have been at the forefront in promoting prudent fiscal management. In essence, you have to create a strategy to pull your business through even when resources are limited.
Strategies to Promote Growth When Resources are Tight
Now that the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects for 2016 projects predicts a rough patch ahead how do you steer your ship when money is tight? Here are some ideas collated from financial advisors and growth experts:
1. Take Your Business Online
Getting your business online might seem a no-brainer but you will be surprised how many businesses are already online. There are over 3.28 billion internet users as of January 2016. The Pew Research Center’s says that America enjoys more than 95% internet penetration.
In essence the Internet provides you with a cheap option to market your business and watch it explode. This is not only an apt communication tool but you can also grow your business on this platform through targeted marketing. You can easily rope in millions of users because most of them actually go online for their shopping needs.
2. Get Everybody on Board
One of the greatest pitfalls for business is lack of communication on fiscal policy matters. Well, if you don’t keep your staff informed about cash flow challenges then you are in for a big surprise. They will resist any attempt at cost cutting. Regular updates on the prevailing financial situation and its implication on your bottom-line should be availed to your staff.
If you are initiating cost-saving practices within the business including limiting travel, going paperless, energy management among other methods your staff will be more receptive if you keep them in the know. You should never force such policy decisions on the employees but rather let them embrace them gradually. The money you save from such strategies will go a long way in helping you market your brand.
3. Be Creative
When money is tight, most business owners panic and this is the first step towards ruin. Your tightening budget can be a blessing because it helps unlock your creativity. Look at your competition and other industries to learn how they are dealing with the financial turmoil. You will sure find some things you can implement in your business to help steady the ship.
Think outside the box. For instance come up with an online competition and ask for money-saving ideas. Crowd sourcing should not just be a buzzword you hear but an idea you can use to get invaluable tips to spur your enterprise.
4. Leverage Social Networking
Consumers are now using social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter among others to make their purchasing decisions. You need to retain your clients by leveraging the power of these connections.
Your brand should be visible always and for this to work you need to be consistent in social media marketing. For example, keep reminding users of new products you are launching and make sure you post photos of the launch. You can even invite them through Facebook for the launch or offer coupons and gifts on your product page to keep them engaged. With such high visibility on social media your brand grows without the need for big money marketing.
5. Capitalize on a Reward System
One common trait about consumers in any market is their love for freebies. With a reward system you can retain your existing customers while also attracting new ones. Everyone loves a free gift or a promise of some savings and even celebrities have confirmed how they use coupons to save money when shopping.
A reward system easily lures new customers and when word goes round that you are giving out freebies or discounts to loyal customers more visitors will come calling.
6. Network and Network Some More
Where do you usually get your clients from? If you are not getting referrals then it is time to rework your networks. You must keep a database of all your customers including their email addresses, phone numbers and if possible encourage them to recommend your business to others.
You also need to cultivate industry connections by using professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn among others. More importantly, connect with any industry body and make sure you register with them. This raises your profile at little to no cost.
7. Leverage Quality Customer Service
Would you hire a real estate broker who never replies to your emails? Well, you need to avoid such practices and every member of your staff needs to know that ‘customer is king’. You can easily grow your business even when there is no money by leveraging exceptional customer service. Word of mouth always gets around and if you treat a customer excellently, they will either come back for more or recommend your business.
Is it possible to grow your business when money is tight? The answer is, ‘yes you can’; you just have to be creative. You also need to focus on customer retention even while targeting a broader market. Simple practices such as quality customer service, better communication and long-term thinking help to grow a business in the backdrop of diminishing resources.