Growing Your Business in a Recession

This article was written by Sue Miley and published by Crossroads Professional Coaching


All of the recession talk has everyone worried.  The general public is spending more money on gas, food, and other goods and services.  Depending on what industry your business is in, you may be concerned that your business will stop growing.  Even if you are a B2B business, the endless supply chain issues, the higher freight, the impact of gas prices on your fleet, and other increased costs, may have you thinking about how you can cut back. You may be thinking how can I make my business recession proof?

Worry doesn’t do us any good in itself, but sometimes it informs the decisions we make moving forward.

This is where things get tricky.

How to Recession-Proof Your Business

Our first instinct when the future looks bleak is to hunker down, cut back, and cut our losses.  I don’t agree with this approach as it will create a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I believe we need to be consistent in our business in good economic times and bad.  Here is the approach I recommend to recession proof your business:

  1. Don’t stop marketing and sales.  When an economic downturn hits, we must keep selling.  We have to make sure our marketing and sales approach are as efficient as possible, so we don’t waste time and money, but …. we have to keep selling.
  2. Answer the phone (email or visit) or call back ASAP.  When you get a lead from your website, contact the prospect within a couple of hours at most.  When someone calls you for business, answer the phone.  People are impulsive and they want immediate service.  We want to get things in 24 hours from Amazon, immediately download a book, or have instant access to whatever we are buying.  If a customer called you, they are probably calling others.  The first one to respond has a leg up.
  3. Really follow-through in a timely manner.  Again, it depends on your industry, but so many businesses will answer a call for service but take a week to get an estimate or proposal to the prospect.  Your competitors are cutting back and don’t have the personnel to respond timely or get to the work.  If you do the same, you won’t either.  This seems obvious, but most businesses take forever.  They lose sales because of it.
  4. Do the best work of your company’s history.  Seriously. Now is the time to show your customers that you really do have high quality goods and services, that you are super-responsive, and great at follow-through and follow-up.  We must talk the talk and walk the walk.
  5. Be conservative with your own investment and expenses, but don’t cut into the things you need to ensure the points above.  Of course, we need to be cautious and manage our own spending efficiently.  Check prices.  Keep workflows efficient so costs are minimized.  There is just only so many fixed expenses that can be cut.  The only way to stay profitable is to keep revenues coming in.
  6. Pray that fear won’t stop you.  God says He cares about our business.  He tells us that we should not worry.  He promises peace that can only come from Him.   I can struggle with fear.  Even though Jesus says, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world”, I still have it hit randomly.  I have to stay focused on God, and for me, I do that through prayer and reading the Bible.  It isn’t God I don’t trust; it is myself and the other humans.  But, if I stay focused on God, I don’t meddle and make things worse.

A Case Study of Good, Timely, Effective Service

I personally had an air conditioner issue this weekend.  With 95-degree South Louisiana heat you don’t want to wait for Monday for that.  I called a 24-hour heating and air company that answered the phone at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, had a scheduler call me back in 5 minutes, and had a technician scheduled for a 9-noon slot.  They called me back at 8:30 am to tell me the technician was on their way.  By 10 am my air conditioning was back on and cooling before the main heat of the day set in.  Yes, this is what they advertise that they do, yet it is still so rare.  I was thrilled.

A Missed Promise Can Be A Lost Customer

I have many other vendors who tell me they are going to do something and then don’t.  They don’t even call and let me know they are going to be late.  They don’t hurry to make up the time and they don’t make sure the next time that they are on time.  Yet, they expect to grow.

You may be thinking that this is not just advice for a recession.  Exactly.  But, if there are less dollars to go around and fewer customers, you want them to come to you.  Don’t just say you have the best customer service around, have it.  Don’t just say you have the highest quality, have it.

If you are a small business owner, there is enough work for you to cover your expenses.  We just have to show up, and be better than everyone else, and we will not only have enough, but we will also actually grow!