I’m hearing from my equine and non-equine clients that running a business in this economy is taking a toll. Not only the physical wear from constantly working but emotionally fatigue from the stress. They are working hard as ever but little gained from the effort. So if this describes you take comfort that you are not alone. But how do you prop yourself up to make it through until the economy recovers?
Market! By now I’m assuming you have cut expenses as much as you can. So now focus on increasing revenue. Come up with a goal of how much more revenue you need monthly. Once you have that goal, take yourself away from the barn and spend a day thinking about your business. Feel free to have others join you for brainstorming sessions. Others asking questions “what are this?” can help get you thinking outside the box. Think creatively to how you can change or implement something you’ve always wanted to do. Diversify your product line. Boarding facility could start a series of clinics. Breeding facility could offer open houses to showcase stock. Research other marketing platforms like facebook, twitter, etc. At the end of the day, summarize your thoughts and discussions in a written plan with start and due dates. Developing a written plan is key to you achieving you monthly revenue goal. Keep in mind the changes you make now will carryforward and will strengthen your business compared to your competitors.
Cash flow! Cash flow is what your business lives on. If people aren’t paying then you are in quicksand. Cash coming in the business is step one. If most people are slow-paying, start billing twice a month so that you get cash infusions twice a month. Talk to those that are continually slow-paying to see why that is happening. Find a mutually agreeable solution and hold them to it. Explain that as a business it is important that your customers pay as the contract states. You may need to fire them if they are not able to meet their obligations. Keep in mind your marketing efforts will be replacing a poor paying customer with good paying customers.
Secondly, cash outflow can be managed. Negotiate delayed payment terms with your significant vendors. Defer capital expenditures. Simplify: identify non-essential initiatives and activities. Being proactive to approach vendors and suppliers puts you in a much better bargaining position then you are behind three months.
Re-energize! Once you’ve got your marketing plan and work on optimizing your cash flows, you will feel a little weight lift off your shoulders. To continue that feeling, figure out how to motivate yourself to stay on plan. Turn the marketing plan into a little game. If I do “x” items, I get to buy myself a treat. Find what motivates you to keep you accountable to the plan. Invite someone to monitor your progress.
Communicate with your employees – let them know where you are going; what the challenges are and what their role will be. Check in with your customers. Are you meeting their needs? Here is what we are doing to serve you better. Do you know anyone else who could benefit from our services? In this economy it seems some of the traditional marketing efforts are not working. But personal referrals remain the most effective marketing tool.
Implementing these three ideas will help your mental attitude as having a plan gives you focus and direction. We are always available to work with you developing a plan either as a brainstorming partner or identifying financial goals.