Tough times

At this stage of the year, it doesn’t look likely that 2012 is going to be any easier for most businesses.

Whether it is down to the global economy or the doomsayers, it seems there is unlikely to be much growth for the foreseeable future.

So the temptation is to batten down the hatches to weather the storm and hope for survival until the economic climate improves.

But is that the right way to succeed? Far greater minds than mine are tackling ways to boost growth and are finding it an uphill struggle. My hopes are pinned on them coming up with some answers this year.

Having lived through three recessions now, I’m throwing my two penn’orth into the hat here with some personal thoughts on how businesses can look forward.

  • Don’t stop marketing. Whatever you are doing, by all means review it but keep on doing something! As purse strings tighten evermore, the businesses that will win new customers and keep their old ones loyal are the ones which shout loudest. Marketing your business successfully means that you do not have to compete only on price. Reputation is important too so look after yours. You might not be the cheapest but if you are perceived as the best, that can bring its own rewards.
  • Keep researching and developing new products and/or services.  It is tempting not to think about R&D when you are fire-fighting but the next big idea might just be the one that wins you business.
  • Plan for the future. You might not be in a position to borrow now or the bank might see you as a risk too far but there is nothing to stop you writing a business plan or meeting the lenders to discuss your ideas. The businesses which are quickest off the mark when growth returns will almost certainly be rewarded.