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Small businesses were among the hardest-hit by the economic free fall and many are still reeling from the effects. Each time the economy takes a dive, even the most steadfast small business owners contemplate drastic measures such as overhauling the company, including a new mission statement and purpose. Fortunately there’s a better option: modest transformation while maintaining your company’s core values. Here are some tips to weather the storm without losing your corporate identity.
1. Be on the lookout for new market opportunities that fit your core competencies. Respond to opportunities with an open mind. How can you modify existing products or develop new ones that are in line with what you do best? Embrace change on your own terms. Don’t be confined by how you’ve done things in the past. Innovation is great, but if a new product or idea you’re pursuing doesn’t fit your company’s strengths, it’s not a good use of resources.
2. Stay focused on customer satisfaction and retention. Pay attention to your customers and your customers’ customers. Be visible and accessible. Responding to customer issues and needs with strong customer support and new product features is critical to creating a loyal customer base that will stick with you during tough times and refer you to new customers. If you can’t do what your customers are asking, at least let them know why. They’ll appreciate it.
3. Make sure you have the right team in place. Seek out smart, savvy, and versatile people who are willing to take responsibilities outside of their defined roles. As the market or economic environment changes, they will, too. Your business can adjust accordingly.
The bottom line: It’s never too early to start planning for unforeseen downturns in the economy or your market. Constantly look for opportunities to repackage your core capabilities to suit new and changing market needs, stay focused on customer satisfaction and retention, and make sure that you have an agile, committed team in place that can quickly change course to keep your business in the black.
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