Six tips to help you pull your business through difficult times

It is said that the only two things you can be certain about are death and taxes. For entrepreneurs, ‘difficult times’ is a valid addition to the list.

There’s not much that you can do to escape the challenges that come your way when running a business. What matters more is how you react to them. 

During the Prohibition of the 1920s, American alcohol producers saved their businesses by adapting in creative ways. Stevens Point Brewery shifted into the soft drinks market. Pabst started making cheese. Coors delved into dinnerware. And Schlitz became a chocolate factory.

Selling cutlery probably won’t solve the cash flow issues in your software development company; but it’s that kind of creative thinking that gets businesses through the toughest of times, be it money problems or global pandemics.

With this in mind, here are six tips for pulling your business through difficult times. 

1) Take action…

One thing Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Henry Ford have in common is that all of their first ventures were bankrupt failures. 

Whenever something stands in your way, the last thing you should do is nothing. Failing to take action will only make matters worse, so it’s important to maintain a positive and motivated mindset. Approach each challenge as an opportunity to grow and not an obstacle. 

Pay attention to the situation, clarify the problem, formulate a plan and implement it. Some business owners recommend performing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis during difficult times to map out the best path forward. 

2) … to a degree

There’s a balance between taking action and bringing yourself to the point of burnout – which only makes the situation worse. Taking some time off to think can provide a much-needed recharge. Plus, you’ll come back with plenty of great ideas for how to overcome the problem. 

3) Boost sales

Perhaps a sales boost will ensure the capital you need to get out of your current situation. There are many ways to make this happen.

Getting active on social media and investing more time into digital marketing is a quick and affordable way to expand your reach. Implementing a loyalty program is also a good idea, as are volume discounts on large orders.

Investing in search engine optimisation is another method to uplift your sales. SEO for small businesses is proven to be vastly effective technique.

4) Get financial help

You can kick your cash flow back into gear by getting some help. If you can’t ask friends or family, applying for a small business loan is the next step.

It’s a much wiser option these days, as you’ll be investing in your company’s creditworthiness and getting quick access to the money you need. Plus, you can apply online through a simple form to get a short-term loan worth anything from £5,000 to £100,000. 

5) Encourage clients to pay

Many businesses end up in a tight space due to clients who couldn’t be bothered to pay on time. Doing something to make them pay faster can alleviate your cash flow problems.

This can include setting up auto billing, accepting online payments and letting clients choose a pay day that suits their revenue cycle. Deals and discounts also work. 

6) Reduce expenses

Provided that your measures don’t negatively impact the quality of your output, reducing expenses can help you get through your current difficulties and better equip your business for those that are yet to come. Start by looking into non-essentials before cutting any necessities. 

The price of services such as your phone and internet can likely be reduced with one call. Taking a greener approach to the way you do business can help to reduce your water and energy bills while also improving your brand image. 

Look after yourself

Difficult times are, well, difficult. But they’re not impossible. And as you go about solving the problem, make sure that your health remains a top priority. After all, who else is going to run the business? 

So as tough as things might be, try not to let them get to you. Keep your daily routine as much as possible and prioritise your physical and mental health.

The stronger and healthier you are, the more you’ll have to give your business – and the stronger and healthier your business will be as a result.

Photo by Andrew Neel