How to survive an economic downturn

10. Focus on growth areas 

?We?re focusing on growing both the organic section and the male grooming side of the market. Both are tipped for growth,? says Simon Tate, the founder of Kew Health and Beauty. ?Look at sectors most likely to survive economic downturn.?

11. Change the business model 

Business model not working? Change it to one that?s proven to work. That?s what King did when he was running Improveline at the turn of the millennium. He says: ?Like many dotcoms in those times, the initial model we started with didn?t work. We had to be adaptable and creative. It?s easier to do something you know works, but do it better than the competition.?

12. Go cheap… 

Stephano Passantino?s company Lastseason.com offers heavily discounted clothes online. Passantino is confident about the future because of the low cost of his stock. ?People, especially men, aren?t too bothered whether a piece of clothing is brand-new or last season. A hoodie?s a hoodie to a man. Most sites have got a sale option, but they?re not as cheap as we are. We buy at such a price that we can sell it on to the customers and make the same margin as a retail shop.?

13. …Or go upmarket 

Luxury goods are often, perhaps perversely, the last to suffer when the market takes a dive. Tate is hopeful his beauty company will be protected from crunch time because its client base is ?nicely spread? in the upper mass-market and prestige sectors. ?Our experience suggests that the demand for luxury goods doesn?t necessarily tail off?, he says.

14. Get the job done quickly 

Speeding up the time it takes to complete a job can benefit your business in numerous ways. Mullins says: ?We?re cutting the price of a job to get it done quicker and make as many savings as possible on the labour side.?

15. Get friendly with your bank 

It?s important to be upfront with your bank about your financial situation but realise they may be loath to lend you money given the credit crunch. Holmes has this advice for those companies with borrowings of less than ?30m: ?Get all loan agreements together, read them and find out what the covenants mean if you get into trouble. Once you know what the banks know about those covenants, you?ll have some idea of the strategies you might employ.?

16. Tighten your marketing 

Marketing is often the first budget slashed when belt-buckles are tightened. Nicholson says his company is helping clients to tighten their marketing plans but he?s also focused on making the most of every marketing penny his own company spends. ?We?re switching a lot of focus online, and we?re not doing any magazine marketing, which is where we normally advertise when cash is more free-flowing. In the boardroom, marketing is immediately seen as the area where the money you?re spending can be cut without a detrimental effect on the business in the short term.?

17. Concentrate on customers 

Retaining existing business is key, according to Susanna Simpson, founder of PR agency Limelight. That means treating your existing customers like royalty. ?All of our clients have account teams from Limelight attached to them. These teams are talking to them on a day-to-day basis. In particular, we need to make sure the account teams are hitting deadlines, delivering everything the client wants and always exceeding their expectations.?

18. Sort out your energy 

Energy prices are continuing to rise on the back of record-high oil costs. Cooke says businesses should think about fixing the price of their energy contract for a couple of years. ?This gives businesses budgeting availability. Larger companies can also opt to buy power whenever they want throughout the period of the contract. It gives them flexibility.?

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