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News of slowing revenue growth and layoffs in almost every sector currently dominate the headlines in all the places we consume media. Coupled with the inverted yield curve we saw in November, typically a harbinger of a global recession, it’s no wonder we feel stressed. What can we do in a looming recession as entrepreneurs and business owners? How do we protect our companies and limit the fallout from a global economic downturn?
I unwittingly founded my marketing agency in 2008 during the Great Recession, not understanding how serious and prolonged the recession would become and its effects on the entire world economy. Thankfully, my business lived through that turbulence, emerging on the other side with more clients and revenue than one would have expected. Now on the cusp of an economic downturn that feels eerily familiar, I want to see ambitious women entrepreneurs learn how not only to endure but also flourish during the potential next recession.
Why? Because everything everywhere is telling business owners and entrepreneurs to pause, pull back, shore up and play safe right now. I want to give you permission to do the opposite. Despite your natural inclination to hesitate, it’s time to implement these measures right now: Take action before the recession has even been declared.
Beyond scrutinizing your budget and cutting non-essential spending to ensure you have working capital during the potentially lean times, here are the top four tips I used to help my business grow during the last recession.
1. I made networking a priority
Making regular connections helps keep your business top of mind, no matter the economic conditions. Most of us have heard the saying, your net worth is in your network. Cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with clients and other business owners is a great way to keep a steady flow of prospects for your services.
There are numerous ways you can network in person and online, including connecting with customers and prospects on social media (yes, you can even slide into DMs) and attending industry events and conferences to meet potential customers and partners.
Additionally, you can join professional organizations related to your industry or target market. You can even reach out to influencers in your industry or target market and ask for their advice or feedback on your products or services and connect with other businesses in your local area that could be potential partners or referral sources.
2. I doubled down on my content marketing efforts
Content marketing is an excellent way to reach your target customers and build relationships with them. If done effectively, content marketing can increase brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales. If you’re looking to double down on content marketing for your business as I did, here are some tips to get started:
- Create a content strategy: Develop a plan that outlines the types of content you’ll create, how often you’ll post it and where it will be distributed.
- Always focus on quality over quantity: Quality content is more likely to be shared and engage readers than low-quality content in every case. Quality content doesn’t have to be complex, but it must add value.
- Leverage multiple marketing channels: Utilize different marketing channels such as your monthly newsletter, your company blog and social media to reach your target audience. Further, you can host webinars or workshops related to your industry or target market to build relationships with potential customers and partners.
- Monitor results: Monitor the performance of your content marketing efforts so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Invest in tools: Invest in tools that will help you create better content faster and more efficiently. Tools I use include Google Trends, Grammarly, StackEdit and Answer the Public.
3. I ensured my business had multiple income streams
As a business owner, if you’re solely relying on a single income stream, you must take the time to diversify. Multiple income streams are critical to creating a thriving business, as it helps diversify your revenue sources, reduce risk and increase potential profits.
Easy ways to create multiple income streams include: offering complementary services or products, building digital products like courses, affiliate marketing, selling advertising space, creating subscription-based services, speaking and offering consulting services. You want to find additional ways to monetize your business IP so that you can diversify your offerings, ensuring you have a steady stream of revenue.
4. I acquired new business skills to enhance my services.
This is the moment to invest in your professional development. Acquiring new skills that can enhance your customers’ experience will allow you to reap an astronomical ROI, especially once the economic downturn ends. For example, as we’re all learning and leaning into all things Web3, what skills could you learn to help your customers in that space? Other professional development skills and training to consider:
- Take a course in digital marketing to learn how to use social media, search engine optimization and other online tools to promote your services.
- Get certified in project management to learn how to manage projects more effectively and efficiently.
- Get certified in financial management to become more adept at the financial aspects of running a business.
- Learn about data analysis and analytics to make better decisions based on data-driven insights.
- Take a public speaking or presentation course to communicate more effectively with clients and potential customers.
I took many other steps during the last recession to ensure my business succeeded, but these were the actions that garnered the most return. As business owners, we are always searching for ways to grow revenue and a loyal, excited customer base. The central tenet of all of my actions was how to better serve my customers.
Staying customer-centric is critical, focusing on providing excellent customer service in each and every interaction. Customers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to return and recommend your business to others during an economic recession or boom. Leveraging these tips will help you and your business emerge with more advanced skills and resources, ultimately helping you stay ahead of the competition.