As the economy continues to be unstable, what lessons have small business owners learned from the 2008 “Great Recession” that they can apply to current economic times? Fortunately most small businesses have not forgotten their successes and mistakes over the brief years since 2008. Bop Design, a marketing agency focused on small businesses, reminds their clients of the lessons they learned as they were beginning as a business in 2008. “We could not have started at a worse time, but we have always said if we can make it through this, we can handle anything!” exclaims Jeremy Durant, Bop Design’s Business Principal. There are three lessons Bop Design considers best practices for any business as they navigate through this uncertainty. They all relate to making decisions rooted in confidence, not rooted in fear.
- Still be Choosy with Your Clients. Don’t panic and act desperate! As a B2B company, a small business wants to be selective with its clients. A business does not want clients who will provide more heartache and stress than money. “One thing I learned in 2008 is to stick to your ideal customer profile – don’t sign clients who don’t fit your ideal customer profile. Sometimes we panicked and began to approach and sign clients because of the money. Don’t do it!” says Durant. There were many times in 2008 when Bop Design would sign a questionable client just because they were scared about the lost revenue. “Stay true to the ideal customer profile and trust your gut.”
- Do Not Lower Price Arbitrarily. Prospective clients will push a business on price and want a firm to offer more services for less money. “If your pricing structure is sound, stay true to your pricing! Don’t lower your price without decreasing project scope,” advises Durant. A business will almost always regret reducing their price just to win the business.
- Do Not Cut Marketing Investment. When times get tough, the first thing many businesses do is cut marketing allocations. It could be the worst time to cut marketing! As you navigate through the economic storm, maintaining an effective lead generation program is critical. “Even though marketing costs money, if implemented properly, it will still deliver a business plenty of ideal clients,” stresses Durant.
To sum it all up, it comes down to discipline. The more disciplined a business’ leadership is, the more successful a business will be in the long run. A good practice is to post both the mission and vision statement on an office wall to ensure practice discipline. With any strategic decision, a manager should always look to those statements and ask, “Does this fit my business?” Fear can cause one to become distracted and make decisions that do not fit the mission/vision of their company. Stay the course and always base decisions on confident thinking. Confident thinking will give a small business owner the discipline to stay on the straight line and be successful through this current economic uncertainty.