Steering Through Rough Economic Waters

Evidence is mounting that the U.S. economy is in the most difficult type of slowdown for a business to weather. Companies are likely to face inflation–caused by the weakness of the dollar and rising commodity prices–in addition to slowing sales.
In the article, "Guiding Your Business Through the Recession", Ridgely Evers of NetBooks (www.NetBooks.com) offers six tactics to put your firm in the position to navigate hard circumstances and emerge stronger.
1. Focus on your existing customers. Remember, they are under the same pressures you are. Make sure that you are the company they choose to work with when times are difficult.
2. Make sure you keep your best employees.
They will be pressured by inflation and may be tempted to switch to higher-paying positions, if they are available.
3. Invest in systems and technology. While this may seem like a strange time to be making investments, there are two good reasons to do it now. First, in this less-hectic time for your business, you and your staff may be more available to assess options and make changes. Second, improved systems will enable you to provide better service to your clients while at the same time enhancing your employees’ productivity.


4. Dump slow-moving inventory. Offer this merchandise at a deep discount to the customers who have bought it in the past.

5. Make friends with two banks. They'll be feeling the pinch too. Remember, they make money by making loans. So develop good relationships with people who can lend to you in at least two banks. Then you will have quick access to debt should you need it to weather a tough period or to take advantage of an opportunity.
6. Be ready to acquire. There are certainly opportunities for you to expand via acquisition as your competitors stumble. In many cases, you can cherry-pick, either snapping up the best companies or the technology, customer lists, accounts and key employees rather than whole companies. Be sure to network constantly so you're aware early when competitors are having a hard time.
Difficult times call for difficult–and creative–measures, but they're also great opportunities if you plan ahead. Use your virtual assistant's services to give you a jump on the competition.


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