For a lot of small businesses in the tri-County area, the current business environment truly is uncharted territory. After a long period of operation in a healthy economic environment, many area businesses are faced with the challenges of this new uncertain economy.
While the Economic Development Council does work to attract new business to the area, a large part of our work revolves around retaining and strengthening current business. With this goal in mind, we work to provide you with the tools and assistance you need to thrive in this economy. Although the first reaction might be to tighten spending and increase cuts, closer inspection might reveal some steps that would be much more beneficial to your company.
Of course, one of the first steps is to develop an understanding of what your environment is. How does the economy affect you? How does it affect your competitors, your suppliers, and your customers? The effects of the economy on them will impact your relationship with them as directly as it will affect you.
In his article, "Strategies and Processes for a Changing Economy," (available at www.Inc.com) Dana Baldwin of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning outlines four steps to ride out and even grow in today’s rough economy.
- Know your costs. If you really understand where you are spending money and why, you can trim costs without cutting the driving force behind your company.
- Concentrate on the core parts of your business. What are the elements that have brought you to the position you’ve earned currently? What are the competitive advantages that carried you to this position? Any cuts directly affecting these elements should be evaluated very carefully. Don’t abandon methods that have brought you success just because the waters are rough.
- Don’t forget to keep your eye on the long-term. Eventually the economy will turn around. If you’ve cut key people or processes, it will be a lot harder to regain your former position or rebuild the skilled team you developed before the cuts.
- Stick to your strategic planning goals. Make sure your strategic plan takes into account the current economic conditions. If you don’t have a strategic plan, now is a great time to develop one. Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that provides free consulting to small businesses. They can get you started down the right path to creating or refining your strategic plan.
The Economic Development Council also has a number of resources available to area businesses. The EDC coordinates resources for economic development, growth, and expansion. Through the help of our investors, we provide many services including grant administration assistance and business development programs. Such services are of great value to the community, and it’s only through the generosity of our investors that we are able to provide these programs. Your support enables us to continue supporting and promoting the tri-county area. IBI