Strategies for Navigating an Economic Downturn

  • Keep a cool head. All decisions need to be fact based and not only focused on immediate impact, but also long-term effect.
  • Pay attention to the market changes, talk to your clients and listen to what they tell you.
  • Involve the management team in the process. It is all too easy to fall into a bunker mentality and make decisions without them. Do not make that mistake!
  • Evaluate your key employees and make sure they know they are respected, wanted, and needed.
  • Examine the circumstances carefully, make a plan, and move quickly to implement it.
  • Communicate with every interested party regularly. This includes bankers, customers, employees and vendors alike. In bad times no news is bad news.
  • A contracting economy by definition means the pie is smaller for everyone. You need to either take market share from your competitors or prepare for lower sales.
  • Do not cut costs in growth or retention of revenue unless absolutely necessary. You need everyone you have working on either retaining or growing sales.
  • Take every possible step to conserve cash. Cash is always king in business, but particularly in tough times. Lease or finance major expenditures. If you don’t have to have it, put it off.
  • Carefully examine significant expenditures and be sure each is necessary and reasonable. This is particularly true with payments to yourself and related parties.
  • If debt availability is at risk, draw down on it and hold it as cash
  • If staff reductions are necessary for survival, make a plan and handle it quickly and professionally. If at all possible, do it only once and tell the team you are behind them.
  • Avoid sweeping cost reductions that impact all staff equally, talented and marginal alike. Favor your best staff and remove the marginal ones.

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