The latest developments in the economy are enough to make anyone nervous. For a small-business owner, the uncertainty can keep you up all night. You can't control Wall Street's roller coaster ride, but there are some things you can do to ride out this latest wave of economic turbulence.
Malcolm McRoberts, senior vice president of small-business services at Deluxe, has some advice for small-business owners. Deluxe is a company that provides small-business services and products such as Web design, Web hosting, and forms and checks. Here are five tips from McRoberts:
Rise above the negativity. Many argue that Standard & Poor's recent downgrade of the nation's credit rating was politically driven rather than based on the country's inability to manage debt. Some argue the U.S. economy has been growing slowly and consumer spending habits are steadily rising. Now is a good time to revisit your company's business plan and have an open discussion with customers and employees on next steps for the remainder of the year.
Turn to current customers. Now is the time to focus on your current customer base, its needs and what has worked in the past. Consider revisiting or instituting a customer rewards campaign or a referral program offering discounts on future products or services.
Focus on affordable marketing. Small-business owners do not need to spend a fortune on marketing. For less than $5,000, you can refine your search engine marketing (SEM), redesign your online ads to better showcase your company's products, design a new logo and more.
Hold off on hiring. Given the unpredictable economic climate, it's probably best to hold off on any major staffing increases unless your revenue truly warrants it.
Examine your cash flow and find a financial adviser. Talk to your accountant or bookkeeper and come up with a plan in the event of a dramatic dip in sales. Investigate loan options now, just in case you need one. Find an experienced business mentor, someone who is a third party, who is able to offer you financial advice.
Deluxe is currently running a contest called Project REV 2012 in which small-business owners and entrepreneurs can enter to win $15,000 in Deluxe marketing products and services.
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