I’m about to insult lawyers.
The rest of you – you needn’t cheer quite so raucously. I only choose to use lawyers as an example of a highly trained group of professionals, skilled and experienced in what they do and good at their multi-faceted jobs, but because of that, think that they can self-handle other aspects of their business where different specialist skills and experience are required.
I could have chosen accountants, or doctors, or engineers (there, some of you are not so comfortable now are you?).
One of my clients is a firm of commercial lawyers specialising in insolvency. In their business they run the constant risk that their clients cannot pay. To give them their due they always perform at their best and never stint on service, despite this possibility, but now and then, they get caught.
In one such instance they worked for an owner of advertising billboards scattered around the suburbs. Having satisfactorily won the case for their client they found that the client is cash strapped and unable to pay them, asking for a payment plan over a year or so. Clearly not a good situation. The senior partner, true to the entrepreneurial spirit of the firm then negotiated a contra arrangement where they get to use two billboards and paste up advertising for the law firm over a year. In this way a $20,000 doubtful debt is used to gain $40,000 worth of billboard advertising – quite an advantage? Read More
In these recessionary times, business owners beat a retreat. SME owners look at cost savings, financial controls and expenditure. However if this is done in isolation, that is, if you rush to control costs without also looking at the top line, your bottom line will start to shrink anyway!
The other unquantifiable cost is, if you withdraw into a cost-saving shell, what happens to your business goodwill? How will you be seen by your customers? Is that affecting your brand? As you cut expenses, without looking after your market, perceived services may suffer. When the good times roll again – and they will – are you going to be ready to take on the competition again or will you be behind the 8 ball rebuilding your reputation and name-recognition?
Counter-intuitive as it is for SME owners in a period of financial slow-down, SMEs must continue marketing efforts. “Marketing” is not only “advertising” which is what SME owners think when they think of marketing. In fact, advertising may be your least effective marketing cost in a shrinking economy. Read More
However, what is possible is to secure your business as much as is possible by following a series of simple and common sense business strategies. These strategies are no different from strategies you should employ under normal circumstances, but which application is much more acute in today’s economic climate, and with a different emphasis required. Sadly when times are good, businesses allow themselves to get “fat” and some of these every-day disciplines are allowed to slacken.
The strategies can be grouped into defensive and offensive strategies. As you look at your business performance it is likely that you will find profit performance heading south, and with the economy looking the way it is, it is difficult not to panic and begin to tighten all the hatches. However you can tighten too much, to the extent that your business finds it difficult to operate normally. Hence, while it is natural to concentrate on the defensive strategies such as cutting costs, it is important to keep in mind the offensive strategies – those that your business should take to ensure that you are the one in your industry that keeps selling when others are closing down. Read More