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Firstly, understand that whilst you can control your business to some degree, you can’t control the general market atmosphere. Up’s, downs, good times & recessions are all just a normal part of the swings and roundabouts of business. In the ‘old days’ I used to have a small design business that was affected by market conditions. In the down times, I would stress, panic, chase work and generally lose focus.

After 5-10 years of similar trends of up and downtime, it became apparent that no matter how much I fought, the quiet patches still occurred and revenue dropped. On the flipside, I found during the busy, more positive times that business was good, and revenue flowed. It was also during these busy times that the busyness hilighted the need for good systems and processes. Trouble was though that I had no time to put any new processes and systems in place. I was too busy!

It tome some years to recognize that these periods were actually market trends and not just a result of bad business effort. Look around and talk to business people today and you’ll find that nearly all businesses are in the same economic condition. Almost all are noticing the same patterns, so it’s not just you – we’re in a bad trend.

Here are some simple tips you should consider to help your business run smoother  in tough times…

In the good times, setup a buffer for the bad times.

There are some times every year that all businesses are either negatively or positively affected by. Usually these are either holidays (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving etc) or seasonal (Winter, Summer etc).

If you know you have a good season each year, (ie: Advertising/Design peaks between holidays and drops off in holidays), during your good revenue period, put some money aside! Simple advice I know, but I still hear of people spending big during the good times rather than saving, and when the bad times hit they’re unprepared! So put cash reserves aside in the good times to carry you through the bad!

Cut paid advertising, Use free marketing instead

In good times, pay for advertising as when people are in ‘buying mode’, advertising works. In bad times, you may notice the response or conversion rates dropping from your advertising efforts. It’s pointless using paid marketing when the customers aren’t in ‘buying mode’. It’s just throwing money away!

Instead of investing money, invest time. Use other free methods to drive traffic and leads such as social networking, blogs, PR, articles etc. They cost only the time, but still drive traffic to your door!

Here’s some articles worth reading:

Organic Marketing – A better choice!
Do you need Google Adwords and PPC?
Key Marketing Methods for 2008

Change focus from Sales to Systems and R&D

As mentioned above, if people aren’t buying, you’ll end up beating your head against a wall trying to advertise (sell) to them. I don’t suggest you stop selling, but rather you should take advantage of the spare time to focus on your core business systems.

Try to systemize and automate as many processes as you can. This will make your business processes and administration run smoother as well as save you money (and possibly a wage). Create or implement a CRM tool or Project Management software. Look at improving your Accounts System. Anything that will make life simpler and easier should be addressed. Then, when the market picks up you’ll be better equipped to handle a greater level of sales focus!

Want more tips?

Software Startups: Tips for Surviving a Recession!

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project Management Software visionary for:
ProActive Software, ProWorkflow, ProWorkflow Blog & Julian101
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About The Author:
Julian Stone begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting is the CEO of ProActive Software, developers and creators of the leading web based project management software http://www.proworkflow.com.