What to do when your crystal ball isn't working...
How’s your crystal ball working these days?
Mine’s a little fuzzy. We’ve never been able to predict the future, especially as small business owners, but it does seem like the last few years have been far different than anyone could have imagined.
So, what are you going to do?
How do you plan when you have no idea what’s going to happen?
Figure out what you do know
Costs are going up (but are yours?)
Wages are going up (are you competitive?)
Competition for employees is up (are my employees content?)
What are your customers saying?
What needs are you meeting for your customers?
How are your customers likely to react to certain situations like higher costs, lower supplies, etc.
How are your employees feeling about your business and their personal needs? Are they scared they will be laid off? Worried about making ends meet?
Do what’s best for YOUR business
Watch your competition, but don’t always do what they do. Maybe they are cheaper, but do they deliver the quality and reliability you do? Depending on your business, this might matter. If it does matter, keep reminding your customers of what you do offer. Your competition may be about to go under or is borrowing heavily - you don’t know their financial situation. Your survival and growth are what matters, not theirs. Don’t put yourself in a hole to make it work.
Listen to the news, but don’t base all of your decisions on it. Make sure the news applies to you and your customers. For example, it’s easy to panic when listening to the news about the volatility of the stock market, or the supply chain shortages, but are these really affecting you directly? Even if indirectly, how can you mitigate the effects?
Spend Carefully and Stockpile Cash
Set aside money FIRST. Taxes, loan payments, payroll, and bills will come regardless of whether you have saved the money to pay them. Be prepared.
Look at EVERY item you are spending on and try to cut it out or cut back. Those small things add up - are there even a few small things that you can cut back on? You would be surprised at what a difference long-term that can make. Do you even know what you’re spending? Things like software subscriptions add up quickly and you may be paying for things you are not using. You may also need to spend money in a different way. Perhaps hiring a professional who knows what they are doing can save you money in the long run with efficiencies or changes that you didn’t know were possible.
Focus on Your Employees
Your employees are a very valuable asset. How can you maximize your employees’ value to your company? Do you have good processes written down and are they being followed? Do you have the right employees in the right seat? Is this the time to make changes? Are your employees passionate about you and your business? You’ll get much better results if they are doing what they are good at and what they care about.
Pay fair rates to your employees. Many employees know that small businesses can’t pay what a large corporation can, but make sure you aren’t making them pay for your success. It will be harder to retain an employee if their personal financial situation gets rough with rising prices.
What can you offer your employees that don’t cost as much money? Bringing in breakfast or lunch, knowing what matters to them and asking about it, having some fun occasionally, etc. are all ways to engage your employees and make them feel like this is a great place to work.
Work to keep the employees you have. Having good employees is important and you should always have people who fit your company, but if someone leaves that is really valuable it’s rough in a lot of ways. Training new employees can cost a lot in both time and money. Employees leaving also affect the employees staying. Sometimes, it’s necessary for change, but doing what you can to keep your good employees has a lot of value.
Being a small business owner has its challenges and just surviving as long as you have is commendable. Planning and focusing on your spending can be the key to successfully moving forward. Need help? We still don’t have a crystal ball that works, but we have some proven methods that have helped our clients.