When economists and industry leaders warn of ‘HARD TIMES.. the ripple effect on local business will be marked if local entrepreneurs don’t begin to take immediate steps to plan positively for tough times.

When times get tough, savvy business entrepreneurs trim the fat and get back to basics.

Here are 10 steps for developing a strategy to survive tough times.

  1. Be Prepared. Recognise that tough times brings the likelihood of lower consumer demand, slowing sales, fewer customers and longer sales purchasing cycles.
  1. Be Optimistic. It’s not the end of the world. Business does not stop. It just slows down.
  1. Understand Your Challenge. Business is, first and foremost, about making profit. There are only two ways for a business to profit: Increase Revenue and/or Reduce Costs.
  1. Redefine Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Identify what makes your business, product, service, uniquely different to all the other businesses in your market and broader… and state it clearly for consumers to see. Remember that all industries compete for your prospective customer’s Rand. How do you stand out above ALL offers bombarding your target market?
  1. Increase Revenue. Results-oriented Sales and Marketing efforts become critical. Marketing efforts need to generate maximum impact, response and profit. Results inspire confidence. Confidence inspires sales.
    1. Sales generate cash flow.
    2. Cash is king in tough times.
    3. New sales in slowing markets lead to an increase in market-share and a squeezing out of your competitors.
  1. Be Marketing Focused. Businesses that are not seriously marketing-driven will struggle to survive. Research and redefine your target market. Target those decision-makers who desire your product and make the benefits of doing business with you massively irresistible.
    1. Test every marketing effort, advert, headline copy, pricing, for maximum response performance.
    2. Use direct-response mechanisms to determine what advertising message works… and what fails.
    3. Demand a specific response from every advert.
  1. Be Proactive. Network with positive business entrepreneurs with similar target markets and conduct joint promotions. Reach out to target communities, associations, schools and target key centres-of-influence. Provide education and information via all media to inspire confidence in consumers.
  1. Develop Residual Income Back-End Products. Understand the ‘residual value’ of your current satisfied client and past client list to leverage off up-front sales and develop back-end sales of new offers, upgrades, enhancements or maintenance programs. Get to understand and calculate ‘The Lifetime Value of Your Customer’! The back-end is critical to any business!
  1. Build Your Most Important Business Asset. Your customer list – past, present, and future – is your business! Without it your business has almost zero value to a purchaser.
  1. Reduce Costs. Trim unproductive overheads and excess stock that do not actively encourage profits. Every individual, from receptionist to accountant must become a part of your ‘Increase Revenue’ strategy. Idle, non-productive employees are a luxury. Every square meter of office space, every piece of office equipment, all communication technology, every kilometer traveled or meeting attended must have a profit-motive.