RICH SLOAN: START UP, KEEP GOING
ers know you and your company volunteer for a
Rich Sloan is co-found-
cause with your time or conduct your business
er of StartupNation.
com ( www.startup
sustainably. The respect you gain will broaden the
nation.com), a leading
purchasing decision tree from strictly monetary to
business advice and
networking site for
ideological and emotional considerations as well.
Create systems. The more predictable,
repeatable and reliable your business activities
are, the more efficient you become. By studying,
streamlining and then documenting a systemized
approach to customer service, financial management, team communication, marketing, etc.,
you’ll be able to free your mind of the procedural
aspects of your business and focus more time on
creative and innovative ways to be valuable to
THERE ARE A substantial number of businesses
that will not get beaten up by these trying times.
In fact, they’ll thrive.
Here’s what you can do to become a recession buster, too.
Get searched. Small businesses are creating
Web sites in ever greater numbers. With a little
effort, it becomes very easy to get search engines
such as Google to send you traffic. It’s all a matter of deliberately designing your Web site and
content so that the search engines are attracted
to your site and give it priority over other sites
with similar content. It’s up to you to then convert
those visitors into paying customers.
Add meaning. Customers have a harder
time pulling the trigger on purchases in a down
economy. To give them impetus to spend their
money with you, add meaning to your business
by standing for something. Find a cause that you
would like to associate with and share a portion of
your proceeds with that cause. Let your custom-
Spark word of mouth. Stop spending on
advertising as a first priority. Start figuring out
ways to give people something to talk about. Add
to that tools that make it easy for word of mouth
to spread. For example, instead of just sending an
e-newsletter featuring products (ho-hum), take
it to a new level of buzz-worthiness by including a juicy personal commentary, heartstring-pulling story or perhaps an outrageously funny
photograph that makes people want to pass the
e-newsletter along to someone else. Before you
know it, your advertising budget will be zero and
your inbound traffic will balloon. C
More in archives:
On Costco.com enter “connection”
At Online Edition, search
sales are slowing down, order in quantities that offer
2. Revisit accounts receivables regularly. Send out
bills more frequently. Give bigger discounts for pre-payments and CODs and cash. Offer to take credit
cards (Costco has an excellent system) instead of waiting for checks in the mail—especially to those customers who tend to need second reminders to pay.
ACCORDING TO THE
Kauffman Foundation (www.
age 55 to 64 form small businesses at the highest rate of
any age group: 28 percent
higher than the adult average. With this in mind, the
Small Business Administration developed a Web site
aimed at entrepreneurs 50
The site, www.sba.
features interactive information and links to help 50-plus
entrepreneurs consider the
benefits and rewards of business ownership. Features
include a self-assessment
questionnaire to help aspiring entrepreneurs determine their business
readiness, information on
borrowing and credit, free
online business courses and
inspirational success stories
from over- 50 entrepreneurs.
The Web site also helps
users evaluate the reasons
for business ownership after
age 50, describes the risks
involved and explains how
to devise a plan of action at
every phase of business
3. Stay in contact with customers to make sure
they’ll still be in business when your invoice arrives.
4. On the selling side, customers purchase more
basic items and cut back on discretionary items. If you
sell only discretionary products, emphasize value.
IN AN ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN, small-business AN ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN, small-business small-business
5. Keep well-trained, good employees through
the downturn. If you must cut back, offer to cut hours
across the board instead of firing good people. Keep
employees’ spirits up.
owners become more vulnerable, because they often
do not have a great deal of capital to carry them
through tough times. Susan Carlisle, a certified public
accountant ( www.carlislecpa.com) and Costco member from Woodland Hills, California, says “On the
other hand, small businesses are well positioned to
become lean and mean. They can respond quickly to
the changing marketplace.” She offers these tips.
6. Look at your fringe benefits. You may have to
cut back on some of these.
7. Bring your bookkeeping up to date. Use it to
budget for the year ahead.
1. Watch inventory and supplies turnover. If
8. Visit your CPA to do a tax projection now
instead of waiting until April. She or he may give you
some tax-saving ideas and change your estimated
payment schedule based on a projection for this year
and the next. C