Remember: everything is negotiable, even for small businesses, from the rent on office space to the cost of advertising. That’s true in good times, even more so in hard times.
To keep cash flowing, stay lean. Take a close look at expenses: Are you over-ordering supplies? Can you restrict operating hours to save on utility charges? Figure out where you can cut your overhead, make a new plan, and then stick to it.
Test fresh talent. When the economy declines, larger numbers of smart, experienced people enter the market as contractors and freelancers. It’s a great time to try out new people.
Sell globally. As the dollar drops, your products get cheaper for overseas buyers. That makes exporting easier. And the Internet brings you a worldwide audience, so finding customers in other countries is simpler than ever.
Welcome — warily — new investors. It’s tempting to sell a stake in your company or take on partners when times are tough. That could be a great strategy. (International investors may be particularly interested because of the cheap dollar.) But make sure the relationship is one that will work over time.
Go online. For financial help, the Internet keeps getting better. You can get up-to-the-minute information — on mortgage and car loan rates, for example. Graphics and interactive tools make complex information more digestible. Some sites are very specific.
For the name of a fee-only financial planner, go to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors:
Or check out sites for individual planners, such as Karen C. Altfest, a source for this story:
Business owners can try the Small Business Administration, the National Association of Women Business Owners, or Key Bank, also a source for this story:
Other sites give a mix of general financial advice and information, from how to roll over a 401(k) to hints for investing in commodities. Try these:
— Jolie Solomon
Originally published in MORE magazine, May 2008.