The economy is humming along and your sales are doing just fine. As a matter of fact, things are actually pretty good. That’s why this is exactly the time you should heed that famous Boy Scout motto to “Always be Prepared”. Great advice, but be prepared for what?
Every seven years
On average, there is an economic downturn of some sorts every seven years. Sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little sooner, but seven years on average. Yet when they do happen, most owners seem to get caught totally off guard.
A slowdown, a recession, a depression, each one a little more serious than the other and each one can hurt your business. The trick to minimizing it’s impact, is to do a quick walkaround of your business. Much like every pilot does before takeoff. Why? Because when business is reasonably good, we tend to get a little too comfortable and take our eye off the some of the details.
We stop paying attention to the regular everyday expenses like the wireless phone bills, the internet or the various insurances policies. Or maybe we’ve let our receivables stretch out a little longer than we used to. What about overtime? Is anybody paying attention to it? Is it justified?
What would you cut?
What would happen if your revenue dropped by 20% -30% tomorrow? What expenses would you need to cut? How quickly could you do so? Most individuals can’t answer these questions because they just don’t know.
Making time now to review all your expenses is time well spent. It allows to rationally think things through, instead of being in crisis mode. Doing so now gives you time to explore all the alternatives available to you. For instance, can you use the postal service instead or a courier service? Does that package really need to get there the next day? Can you email invoices instead of mailing them?
If you have delivery or company vehicles, are you getting discounts on fuel by using a corporate fuel card? These cards give you a discount on every litre or gallon of fuel purchased. Over the course of the year this can really add up. If you haven’t been using them, now is the time to get them. Just remember, it’s easier to get credit when things are good?
No one noticed
One of the things I did when I first started out and continued with each startup, was to avoid lunch meetings. By scheduling client meetings before or after lunch, I avoided having to buy a prospective client lunch that I could ill afford. Later on, I would enforce this practice with my staff every time the economy took a downturn. It was easy to do and no one ever noticed. When things got better, we would selectively reinstate lunches.
Are you ready?
Using this kind of benchmark helps you focus on those extraneous expenses that have quietly crept into your business over the past few years. When, not if, a downturn comes, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to generate new business and cut expenses at the same. Doing it now, let’s you answer the question of – Are You Ready?, with a resounding yes!
Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2017
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