Contrary to what the Obama administration would like you to believe, the Great Recession is alive and growing.
Businesses are going bankrupt right and left. And those that aren’t tanking are seeing their profits diminish. This trend will probably continue. So if you are struggling to make profits and are hoping the economy is going to come roaring back, forget it.
Government bailouts are going to the big bankers and brokers who aided and abetted the Great Recession. Entrepreneurs, at best, will get a little lip service. But nobody is going to send you a check or send checks to your customers suggesting that they spend that money with you.
When your business starts foundering, procrastination is a mortal sin. At the first sign of diminished cash flow, you have to bring together your key people, share the numbers, and create a plan.
As CEO, you are the team leader. And the team’s first two goals should be to increase cash flow and cut expenses. (By the way, if you are not the CEO, this is a great opportunity for you to step up and become his right-hand man.)
Usually the best way to increase cash flow is to introduce new products and offers to your existing customer base. If you have been running a good business and have good relationships with your customers they will do their best to respond to special offers, if only to help you out.
Cutting expenses is emotionally challenging because it means discontinuing products you like, eliminating processes you have personally established, and, in some cases, firing perfectly good people. But for a business in trouble, it is essential. If you fail to do it, chances are you won’t be around next year.
Though cutting expenses may be difficult, your toughest job will be getting your marketing working again. And you can’t delegate this responsibility to anyone else.
You have to take charge of the marketing. That means really digging into it and using your experience to suggest changes you can test. It also means motivating your marketing team to implement those changes.
There are several important benefits you will enjoy the moment you take charge of the marketing.
For one thing, you will be able to stimulate new energy and enthusiasm in a team that may be demoralized. They’ve exhausted themselves trying to make the old tricks work. They’ll welcome any new ideas you may come up with.
Also — by putting yourself back into the front-end action — you will be able to see your business like you haven’t seen it in some time.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to get really close to your customers — to their beliefs, desires, and feelings about the products you are selling them. And that may give you the breakthrough idea you need.
I recently tested this with a client whose business was losing money in chunks. Some projects were still working reasonably well. Others were gushing losses. After several months of trying this and that, I convinced him to fire his top marketer and do the marketing himself. Three months later, what was looking like a million-dollar disaster had reversed itself and was making a healthy profit.
The bottom line: This is a bad time for small businesses. If your business is in trouble, don’t expect to be rescued by the government or the economy. The rescuing must be done by you.
You’re the boss. You get the big bucks. Roll up your sleeves and do the hard work. You’ll find the answers you need, and your business will be in the black again in no time.