Nov 12, 2019
It’s not if, it’s when…
No, I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here, I’m just being
realistic. For those of us with small businesses, an economic
downturn or recession can hit us hard, some to the point of being
I managed to (barely) survive the last recession as a small
business owner by the grace of supportive parents, which isn’t easy
to admit at this age, learning to do a lot of things for myself,
and scaling back… way back. If I had $10 in my checking account at
the end of the month, I was doing well.
And not only was I struggling, so were my clients. And you know
what that means… if they’re struggling to keep the lights on,
they’re going to scale back with you. And then you’re going to
struggle to keep the lights on. A vicious cycle indeed.
I bring this up because it feels like we’ve gone back to
comfortable. Splurging more here, spending more there. I know
because I’ve found myself doing it too. Ten years ago my Sirius
satellite radio was one of the first things to go; now I’m like –
oh I have to have that. How soon we forget.
So I’m not suggesting that you start shutting off all of those
“must-haves”, that really are extras, I’m just saying it’s time to
start positioning ourselves for less than favorable economic times.
And I’m right there with you, I need to do the same with my
business so that I can continue to not just survive but thrive.
A few of the things that I did ten years ago out of pure
- Cut back on every extra subscription, monthly payment or dues
that you possibly can. At minimum, prioritize them so if the time
comes, you’re not grasping for straws wondering where to
- Make Google and YouTube your best friends if they aren’t
already. Be prepared to learn some things for yourself, whether it
be repairing an appliance or fixing broken code on your website. I
did it and so can you. Repair bills, no matter what they’re for,
get expensive quickly. Besides, problem solving is a great skill to
have on your resume.
- Build your network. Make a point to meet people, and tell every
one what you’re doing. Consider bartering for services with other
professionals. My Pilates teacher and I swapped website work for
workouts. She got a great website and I got into the best shape of
A few things to start doing now:
- Dave Ramsey school of money. Get rid of debt, build the
emergency fund and build the long-term fund. Yep, I need to do this
too. Interestingly enough, some “experts” are saying to increase
credit lines to prepare for a downturn. It’s far easier to get
financing or credit when you don’t need it. I get the idea, but the
notion of opening up the opportunity to increase debt is a scary
one for me. Do what’s right for you and your business there…
- Rethink monthly expenses. Are you paying “a little extra” for
products and/or services that you don’t necessarily need or use?
Business software is one of the first things that comes to
- Be mindful of the hiring process. If you have employees, or are
considering adding additional people to the workforce, remember
that a downturn affects them as well. What if you have to lay
someone off or scale back their hours? The extra person in the
office right now would probably be a great help but are they going
to be one of the non-essential expenses that you have to cut?
Because that person isn’t a line item you know…
- Diversify your client base. Do you rely mostly on income from a
few clients? What would happen if that amount was cut in half? Or
went away completely? Spread the wealth as they say. Consider
targeting some smaller-scale clients from different industries to
reduce overall risk.
- Build your network. Yes I’m repeating myself. Build your
network of followers and communicate and engage with them. Stay in
contact with email marketing, social media and above all, personal
communication. Don’t be the person or company that they forget
about – or put their list of non-essential expenses. Be the one who
shows up consistently and go above and beyond for them. Loyalty
really is a thing!
We all get comfortable when times are good. Personally, I think
now is a really good time to consider where the money is going and
to make sure that there’s a cushion in place for the next go-round.
Build solid relationships with your clients and support one
another. We’re all in this together, good times and bad.
Because it’s not if, it’s when. Will you be ready?
To learn more about how to manage your own website and marketing
strategies, subscribe to my newsletter and follow me!
Laura Nowak Brown
aka The West Coast Cyber Chick