Many post-recession attempts to bring a business “back from the grave” leave the “revived” company looking more like a zombie than the benefactor of a glorious resurrection. While analysis does suggest that the recession has ended, residual effects are still resonating within SMEs in every industry. Fortunately with a bit of research, dedication, and patience, any company can rebound and become lucrative again.
The first step to recovery is eliminating debt in order to free up cash flow and allow for unrestricted expansion. The primary detrimental effect that the recession had on most businesses was sending them into a downward debt spiral. Some debt restructuring options to consider include:
- Formal or informal negotiations – you can contact creditors independently or contract a professional to draft and propose an official company voluntary arrangement (CVA).
- Consolidation loans – transferring all of your debts to a single lender will simplify management by centralizing monthly repayments, while also reducing the total interest owed.
- Asset financing – even if your company has bad credit you may be able to take out a secured loan by offering up some of your assets as collateral. The funds could then be used to repay debts or invest in the business.
Finding New Ways to Source Leads
Once your debts are in order you need to start focusing on progression by finding new ways to advertise and reach your target audience. If you don’t have an official website and you haven’t been using the internet then that is probably one of the reasons why you struggled during the recession. Consider some of these options for sourcing new leads:
- PPC advertising – pay-per-click ads let you pay for advertising based on results and puts your ad in front of targeted visitors.
- Joint ventures – cooperate with other companies in your industry and offer them a commission for referring clients.
- Search engine optimization – although this is a long-term strategy that requires a bit of patience, within a few months you could be ranking at the top of the search engines for keywords that have a high commercial value, ultimately leading to increased sales and conversions.
- Banner Ads – placing banner advertisements on sites in your niche can be a surprisingly effective way to spread brand awareness and attract visitors.
How Have Others Survived and Thrived?
To really understand how to recession-proof a business, consider the attributes of companies that survived and thrived through the recent recession. These companies fulfilled a need, supplied a product with a growing demand, and/or had low operating costs that allowed them to maintain high profit margins. Overall, innovators and brands with extensive awareness faired best during the recession. For example, Snuggie, the maker of the world-famous portable blanket sensation, managed to sell 20 million units in the height of the recession (2009), primarily because of the uniqueness of the product and the marketing outreach.
Preparing For Another Crisis
Now that your debts are being eliminated and you’re bringing in new business, it is time to take some precautions to prevent being taken off-guard by another financial crisis. Set aside a percentage of your monthly profits in a savings account to be used in times of hardship. Create an investment portfolio and invest in precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum. Try to keep your employee count and payroll low, consolidating positions whenever possible. Finally, reduce dependency on other companies like suppliers or advertising partners so that your success is not riding on theirs.
Debt restructuring and formulating a new profitable business strategy can be hard and some situations are more complex than even experienced business people can deal with. At that point it is best to consider bringing in a company rescue professional. There are specialists that deal with sole trader rescue and others that deal with the whole spectrum of businesses. Just be careful to do your research and ensure that you aren’t being given advice that serves to line the pockets of the supposed advisors than resurrect your business.
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Written by Jason Morrison on behalf of Trust Deed Scotland — a renowned debt recovery agency based in the UK.