Today’s article will be personal as well as informative so please bare with me. Like many other small business owners living in the Bay area my business interests were hit hard with the bad economy. With unemployment in California at an all time high and spending (on services) at an all time low, many business owners have had to find creative ways to bring in new business. I was one of those. Now, I consider myself lucky since firm was still in operation and generating business but the revenue was not the same as it had been in previous years. Prospects weren’t spending as much(if anything) on marketing. Large/mid-sized firms who could afford my services weren’t spending their money and small firms that I traditionally closed faster had no money to spend. I decided to take some time off from writing the column to re-tool my business model and get back to basics in terms of bringing in business. I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few months in the hopes of helping other small business owners rebuild if they’ve lost business, survive if they’re drowning in debt and grow if they’ve become stuck in perpetual cycle of non growth. Here is what I learned and some of what I did (am doing to survive and grow.
1. Remember the lessons of our parents and grandparents
Those of you of a certain age might remember that this isn’t the first time (nor will it likely be the last) that the economy has taken a dip. Our parents and grandparents survived the depression by shear will and determination and necessity. In other words they did what they had to do to survive. After all, what was the alternative? This is the time when we as business people must remember why we got into business in the first place and how we got as far as we did. Success didn’t happen overnight and rebuilding won’t either. Remember the best way to build financial stability is a little at a time -over time. Things will get better and while the good times don’t last forever, neither do the bad times. The trick is to ride it out as best we can til we make it to the other side.
2.Pool your resources with friends and family
One way to survive in tough times is to pool resources. Host potlucks with friends and family (even co-workers). Not only does it save money but it gives everyone a great reason to get together and forget their troubles for awhile. Just think of all of the leftovers (and food you won’t have to buy). My aunt for example is a fantastic cook who has never learned the art f cooking for a small number. Whenever I visit (which admittedly is not nearly enough) she usually has several cakes, pies, and other dishes waiting for me. I generally can’t leave her house without a major doggie bag (for several weeks). My friends and family know that if they need help they can count on me and visa versa. I’m not saying that you should become a leech or a burden, far from it. But there is a certain comfort that comes from hosting a potluck or barbeque knowing that you have a healthy supply of food and alcohol in storage. If you have room in your home think about asking a good friend or family member to move in to share expenses. If you’re like me you’ll use it as a last resort(small apartment and I like my space) but it may be a viable option to save money. When money is tight you have to bring in money while cutting excess.
next part 2