Arnold Sandness of the SCORE Marketing Advisory Council offers advice on how your business can begin to turn around before the competition:
Get good advice. As an entrepreneur, you are a smart risk taker. My question is, “Do you have all the answers?” No. Well, no one person knows it all. Surround yourself with a variety of experts who can add to your knowledge and expertise. SCORE mentors offer free and confidential advice. They are business owners and corporate executives who have successfully run companies. Ask a mentor for advice or find a SCORE office in your community.
Pull in your horns. At this time, postpone plans for expansion. Reduce inventory orders to minimums and review existing contracts to determine the possibility of delays or cancellation. Also, suspend the addition of new products until demand is confirmed. These steps will help avoid unnecessary expenses.
Conserve cash. Collect accounts receivable and contact suppliers to extend accounts payable. Focus on delaying expenditures for new equipment and expanded inventory. To cover any additional work, use freelancers and contractors rather than hiring new staff. Also, do not add new employee benefits or pay bonuses. Employees are usually willing to forgo perks in order to keep their jobs. When necessary, consider reducing your staff.
Use time wisely. Think about contracting tax and payroll preparation to outside suppliers if you would use your time more productively for sales development or floor participation. Conversely, if these items can be handled more effectively and less expensively in-house, then transfer them to another employee.
Utilize marketing. Develop aggressive plans to improve sales volume. Consider special events to attract customers. To get free publicity from the media, look for newsworthy items about your business. Get to know reporters or publishers and keep them informed or offer story suggestions. Collect email addresses from clients & prospects and follow up with monthly messages. Consider personal visits to connect with existing clients and find out how their needs have changed and how your product or service can help.