In my last blog, I talked about the 5 ways that will prepare your business for economic declines.
Now, is it possible to grow your business in a recession? There are steps that you can take to grow your business in a time like this when things are just so unpredictable.
Recessions bring hesitation to purchase. As business owners, it's kind of a crazy time because it can cause you to experience reduced sales and increased competition. To grow your business during this time, it may be helpful to take some steps and put some things into place.
The 5 Steps
Here are five steps I am currently doing in my business and will continue to do. I hope you will find them helpful to recession-proof your business now, and even during a recession they’ll help you to continue to build your business or at least maintain where it is.
We definitely want to make sure you’re in a place where you feel confident that you can still build or at least feel comfortable you can just ride out the storm. While I go through these five steps, ask yourself these two questions:
#1: Cut costs
This is something I am constantly doing. What does that mean? Costs are either operating costs or expenses in your business you have to pay for. It could be your:
The key thing here is to review your expenses. Look through every month what you're doing and spending your money on. I say spending because maybe you're throwing away money. Hopefully, when you put money into your expenses, it’s an investment because you know you can make your money back.
Review your expenses and identify areas where you can reduce your spending. We want to not only reduce, but consistently be able to reduce. When you focus on cost-cutting measures, it's going to help you reduce those costs you have every month, therefore increasing the profit that you get to take home without compromising the quality of your products or services.
There are some places you don't want to cheap out. There are some apps and some connections to my different programs that really help things to connect. If they don't connect, then it means maybe people have to be the ones to do that work. It may be costing us time in wages and labor. Maybe the customer experience isn't as good or mistakes are being made.
Another thing that I just did almost a year ago was cut down the platforms I use. I had a lot of platforms like Thinkific where I keep my courses, and I was also just about to purchase a membership platform. I also used ClickFunnels. I also have a CRM called Infusionsoft, which is really robust and quite expensive every month.
I was looking at all these pieces of software and thinking how can I get rid of some of them. Then a client offered me a platform, and I responded, “Oh my gosh, I don't need another piece of software that I pay for.” But the cool thing was I could replace Thinkific, which was like over $600 a year. I could replace ClickFunnels, which I think was $150 a month. I could potentially replace my CRM, though I have decided not to and I didn't have to purchase a membership site. That's a huge savings every month if I can just pay for one or as I look at it, invest in one piece of software that takes care of 3-4 or even more platforms. It's also a lot easier to deal with one than it is with all the different ones.
The other amazing part was this platform has a lifetime deal. I could invest once rather than monthly, so I figured out it was saving me at least $400 a month. So it would take only six months for me to be able to recoup the investment in that platform. You can try it out for free or get the same lifetime deal. Getting lifetime access to any platform for one low investment has been amazing.
Another way you can cut your costs is with your employees, or team members. Rather than paying for someone local or even within the United States or Canada, where you could be investing in someone who is $40-100 or more dollars an hour, you can cut costs by bringing on a virtual assistant from the Philippines. It's a service I offer. In my business, I've been able to increase the hours that I have with an assistant and decrease my costs by bringing Filipino VAs on board for my own business. That's a benefit you can have, too. Plus, when you hire virtual workers you don’t need to pay to rent an office, furnish it or pay the office electricity and Wifi bills.
#2: Customer retention
Do you know it’s much easier to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones? You may have heard this before, but now is the time to be providing excellent customer service and building strong relationships.
For longer than I probably needed to, I have supported or used certain services because we have a strong relationship. There's actually someone who sends me a monthly newsletter that comes to my mailbox. Even though I haven't used their services in 13 years, I'm more than likely to reach out to them because they have kept in contact with me.
How can you provide a better customer experience and a better customer journey so that you can retain more of your customers?
If you’re thinking, “I can't discount my services.” Can you add to the package so they're getting more value, but it doesn't cost you more? One idea is if you’re selling a program, course, or coaching and you throw in a group session, an online training, an e-book or something that you already have that doesn't cost you out of pocket to hand it over to them as a bonus.
You still have to invest in marketing. You cannot go silent. Invest in marketing and invest in advertising. Make sure your business is visible to your potential customers and consider some new marketing channels. Which social media platforms are you not on yet? Maybe online advertising makes sense for you, like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or YouTube Ads. Maybe it’s about developing a better marketing strategy.
Do you need to be consistently visible online? If you only put out one or two posts a week, could you put out more? Could you be on more platforms? If you're thinking, “Ah Diane, that's too much. I'm already busy.” This, again, is where a virtual assistant would come into play. We're also bringing in-house content creation now to take care of this for business owners to create more visibility and consistency for your marketing.
During a recession, you really have to think about customers who tend to be more cautious with their spending. They're holding their wallet a lot tighter. That’s why it's important to adjust your marketing strategy to reflect this. You can focus on a few key aspects of your offering: how it’s a wise decision for specific reasons, the value, affordability, focus on the necessities if possible, in case people are thinking it’s just a luxury to have your service or product.
Another area to highlight in your marketing are customer testimonials, so your ideal client sees social proof. They’ll tell themselves, “Oh, okay, that person used their service, and that worked out well for them. Maybe I can get the same result.” Also put your face and your voice in front of your ideal customer so they can get to know you. We all know the saying: know, like, and trust. We want our ideal customer to get to know us and feel like they can trust us. Then they're going to be more willing to open their wallet to invest in your services or your products.
#4: Being adaptable
During the pandemic, we heard the word “pivot” all the time, instead we want to be adaptable. That's part of why I like the word dynamic because it's about active change. We should always be changing in our businesses, not only to match the economy, but to match our customers' needs, wants, and desires. What they're telling us they need. That's why I brought in the VA Made Easy Program, and now offer a lot of virtual assistant services because this is what people are needing. I saw they had a lot of ideas, they had all this strategy from their coaches, from advisors, and from experts, but they couldn't implement everything. The businesses were growing, but they were getting too busy.
Being prepared to change all the time is a business strategy, especially being open to new opportunities that might present themselves to you. Be prepared to be flexible. If you can move your business strategy, then you're going to be able to change with the market's conditions, no matter where they're at.
#5: Seek advice and support.
Don't hesitate to reach out to mentors, coaches, business organizations, or other resources that will provide guidance and support. Maybe there's government support out there. So look for government programs, grants, and incentives that can help you and your business weather the recession.
Getting advice and support could save you lots of time. It can also save you lots of money. By getting a strategy session here or a coaching session there or paying an expert to lay out the plan for you, you know that you're going to be in good hands and you're going to be able to take the next steps more confidently, especially in a time when things feel very challenging.
You've now got five steps you can take to still build your business during a recession. Which one of the five will work best for you?
Start to order them in importance, put one into place, then the next one, and work your way through. It's not just about how we deal with the recession, but more important how we prepare for it.
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