Your business is your baby. You’ve given up everything for it. You put your blood, sweat and tears into raising it from day one. But now it’s sick. What was once so promising has taken a turn for the worst. Some people even think it’s time you closed the doors and put it out of its misery. But not you. You haven’t given this your all just to see it fall apart. You’re convinced you can turn this thing around. And you will. Or you’ll die trying (not literally, of course). I admire you. It’s a noble cause you fight for. And whether you win or lose, you represent a dying breed of hardworking, never-take-no-for-an-answer entrepreneurs. You’re willing to go down with the ship if necessary, and I applaud you.
That being said, I’d like to help you in any way that I can—and it’s for that reason that I write this blog post. To offer you some suggestions on how you might be able to breathe new life into your beloved business venture. Ready for some hope? Here goes… Trim the Fat Down to the Necessities I’m not going to insult your intelligence by acting like you haven’t tried cutting costs. Obviously, when profits lessen, you are forced to start trimming the fat. But maybe there are some areas you haven’t yet considered. Let’s take a closer look:
Are you paying for maintenance that isn’t necessary? Sometimes we maintain things just because we think we have to. Don’t get me wrong, you need to take good care of your investments so they last a long time. However, having the platinum maintenance plan on your company car—is that really a necessity? Do you really need that IT company coming in on a weekly basis?
Lease—First and foremost, depending on your line of work, you may want to reconsider leasing an office. Yes, it sounds crazy to many. But I can’t tell you how many small businessmen I know who pay an outlandish lease every month when in reality, they could do the exact same thing from home. Maybe you think you can’t just because you have a couple of employees. Can you not consider letting them work at home, too? This is the age of DropBox, Google Hangout, Basecamp… do you really have to see each other in person to get the job done? Imagine how much you could save if you got rid of the office….
Can’t ditch the lease? Then consider an attempt at renegotiation. Maybe your landlord will take a little less during these tough economic times. Or maybe if they refuse, you could downgrade to a less expensive office.
Take a hard look at payroll—Look, nobody likes to lay off employees. However, sometimes successful businesspeople have to make hard decisions. So ask yourself this question and answer honestly: could you make it without that employee? Or could you swap a full timer for a part timer? Or better yet, could a contractor do the same job without needing benefits or a guaranteed salary? If so, consider a change. And if you’re looking for a good contractor, consider Elance.com.
Rebuild Your Company Image The world is changing at a faster rate than ever before. That being said, the image you created a decade or two ago when you opened your doors may no longer strike a chord with this generation. In other words, it might be time for a rebrand. Here are a few things to consider if you decide it’s time to make the plunge:
Talk to people—Don’t just assume that rebrand is going to work and jump right in. You need to talk to people and listen. That means talk to your customers, your employees, your partners, your allies… anyone your company relies on. Ask them about all parts of your company. Do they like your products? What specifically do they dislike? Take note.
Measure change in your market—How is your market different than it was 10 years ago? How have the clientèle changed? What has changed around your market? In connection with your market? Take note.
Hire a good designer—As a small business owner cutting costs, you may be tempted to handle your own redesigning. Whether it’s print or web, you need a professional who can come up with designs that connect to who you want your business to be perceived as. Don’t DIY this step, or you will fail. If you want to cut costs on design, do it on your printing. Go somewhere like this site to get cheap online printing.
Saving your business won’t be easy. But have faith—it can be done!