GROWING YOUR BUSINESS IN A HOSTILE ECONOMY

Growth is a gradual and steady process that can be hindered or boosted by various factors. One major thing that can affect the growth of a business is the economy of the region in which the business is. If the economic system is not friendly to that business, it cannot thrive. 

The economy of a region has to do with the inter-related production, consumption and exchange activities which determine how scarce resources are allocated in that region. Economy differs from place to place because it is dependent on the choices and actions of the people, history, geography, culture, laws etc of that region. It can change from time to time. 

To start a business, one key factor you need to be sure of is if the economy is favourable to that type of business. But what if in the course of time, the economy changes and becomes unfavourable to your business? What can you do to ensure your business doesn’t go down?

1. Maintain Good Customer Relationship. In the quest for new customers, some business owners neglect old customers. As a result of this, new people may be coming in, but they don’t return.  If a large percentage of your customers don’t return for your products or services, then you’re doing something wrong. You may have attracted them with some dazzle and promises, but they didn’t like what they tasted of you. Please avoid this in your business as much as you can, especially where you have a lot of competitors. Don’t just have a strategy for getting new customers, have one to also keep your customers and win their loyalty. Loyal and satisfied customers are a sure means of getting new customers because they’ll definitely refer your business to others. And you know what? People are more likely to believe the experience of those they know than the promises of a stranger that wants to sell. 

You can maintain good customer relationships by always being cordial with your customers, being attentive and responsive to their complaints, making quick amends where necessary, keeping your products and services top notch, and being honest and faithful in your dealings with them. 

You can create a Customer Loyalty Programme, where you do something to tell them you appreciate them for their loyalty. It can be anything, but be sure you don’t run at a loss. For example, If you run a cyber café, on occasions or to mark certain dates, you can give out snacks to your customers as a complementary show of thanks. 

2. Ensure Consistent Maintenance Of Your Business Functions. Don’t depend on only one source of supply for your business. Have alternative sources. For example, ensure you have regular power supply to sustain power-dependent functions of the business. If you have to generate power yourself (e.g. using solar inverters) rather than depend on what the nation provides, especially when it’s not good enough, then please do so. Your customers may know that the economy is not favourable at the moment, but they will most definitely patronise the business that most meets their needs, despite unfavourable conditions. 

Have alternative sources of supply for your products or services. That way, no matter what hitches one comes up with, another is on standby to meet up with your needs within good time.  

3. Run an Affiliate Programme. Most definitely, a bad economy is also affecting your customers adversely. If your business offers them the opportunity to earn, you’ll have them rolling in. Running an affiliate programme is giving your customers the opportunity to earn a commission when they refer people to patronise you. Of course they’ll keep coming back to buy, and they’ll gladly spread the word about you.

4. Work With Partners. Two heads are better than one. If the going gets tough, get a trusted partner to help you carry the load so you don’t crumble under the weight. The person can partner with you in different aspects – in terms of providing capital, production process, sales, deliveries, marketing, whatever aspect of your business you know needs some leverage. If you decide to go into partnership, be sure to have a written and signed agreement no matter how good your relationship with the person is, and all the terms and agreements should be well spelt out and clear to all concerned. 

5. Cut Costs Without Compromising Quality. When the economy goes bad, it’s normal for business owners to raise the prices of their goods or services in order to ensure the profits keep coming in. You can have an upper hand over your competitors if your prices don’t shoot up like theirs. You can achieve this by cutting costs as much as you can without devaluing your products or services. For example, if you’re a hairdresser, you can learn to make your own shampoo instead of buying the usual in the market. If you bake, you can use less icing for your cake but still decorate them beautifully. You can introduce discounts for customers who buy much more. That way, you encourage them to buy much more and you still make profits, rather than making only a few sales because you’re trying to make huge profits from high prices. 

6. Extend Your Market Reach. No good business grows by just remaining in one part of the world. You need to expand and explore uncharted territory. There are many ways of doing this, and one example is adding online services, that way you’ll be able to reach out to people in other regions with different economies. Social media is there to help you do this. The good thing about Social media is that it ignores economic hardship in general and just places you out there for what you are good for, especially if you know how to exploit its advantages.

If the business is strong enough, you should consider branching it out and turning the original into a headquarters.

7.Diversify Your Products or Services. Diversify, there’s no reason to limit your business to one particular product or one service. A certain barber realised he was gradually losing out because other barbers were cropping up in his street. He had to think of something to attract people to his own shop, and that was when he came up with an idea. He made his place into a Barber’s shop and a Game center. Basically, a customer could barb his hair or play games or do both. That’s diversification, and it worked for him. But be sure not to diversify beyond your capabilities.

8. Host Events. This is one way you can get to socialise with your customers, get to know people around you, show people that others are attracted to you when they see the number of people coming to your event, make an impact by offering benefits at the event, show yourself in the news, generally make some noise and get to be heard and seen. People may see what you’re selling in your shop window and forget it the next minute. But when you host an event, you make a more lasting impression. It doesn’t have to be too elaborate, but be sure to invite key guests that matter in the area of your business. 

When you birth your business, it’s paramount you nurture it to not just grow, but to do so healthily. Whatever the rise and fall in the economy, applying these principles will help keep your business above the waters. 

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