Jan 08

How to get your business going after an economic downturn

One of their most common questions I get from small business owners is, “How is everyone else going? Are they also finding it tough at the moment?”

And I tell them honestly, “Yes, other business owners are finding it tough. Especially in the local region of the Central West. Those in retail are having a particularly tough time of it. And while some sectors are picking up, generally I’d say we’re in a flat spot.”

Now chances are you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the media in New South Wales. After all, Sydney and the other major centres seem to doing quite well at the moment.

So why are things so quiet here in the Central West?

I think Orange and the greater area surrounding it has been down for a while, and will remain that way for a while yet. Why? Because while the rest of the world experienced the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, we’re only experiencing it now.

Let me explain.

While the rest of the world was reeling from the effects of the GFC, we were booming. The Orange area was growing in leaps and bounds, with developments, expansions and new business popping up everywhere. Newcrest and the Cadia mines were the catalysts, injecting vast amounts of cash flow into the local economy and protecting us from the downturn experienced everywhere else in the world.

Of course, everything that goes up has to come down eventually. And that’s why we’re having our current downturn. Our local economy needed to be corrected.

Fortunately, I think we’re through the worst of it now. But instead of being negative and letting our businesses simply emerge from the other side, we need to be proactive. We need to start taking control, and drive our businesses out the other side with all cylinders firing.

After the GFC, a lot of businesses realised they had to reinvent themselves. Many now operate in a much larger marketplace, which the experts refer to as ‘globalisation’.

For those of us in the local area, it means technology (particularly the Internet) has us competing in a much larger marketplace. We have more competitors than ever before, not just outside our local area but also state-wide, interstate or even international.

So if we want to survive, we need to lift our game. We need to make sure that what we sell is still in demand, and at a price consumers are willing to pay.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world has had head start on us because they’ve already been through it all.

So if you’ve got a business here in the Central West, what can you do? Here are seven steps you can take for your business to hit the ground running once the crisis is over (if not before).

1.       Review and update your business plan.

2.       Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

3.       Review your marketplace. Work out what your competitors are doing well, and why customers would choose them over yourself. Then work out how to do it better.

4.       Remember your ‘Why’—why you started your business in the first place. Are you still passionate about what you do? If not, find or recreate that passion. It will give you the drive you need.

5.       Work out your strategy for prosperity, and how you’ll stay relevant.

6.       Conduct a strategic review of your business.

7.       Get active. Don’t put your head in the sand or feel sorry for yourself. It’s time to take action.

And if you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at MBC. We can give you advice, and provide a new perspective on what the future holds for your business.

And that future starts now.