Dozens of worry-inducing words have been used to describe the economic outlook for the rest of this year and into 2009. The financial crisis on Wall Street has only added to our unease: the seizure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; American International Group's (AIG) rescue; Lehman Brothers' collapse; Bank of America's buyout of Merrill Lynch; the bank fire sales; and the politically charged $700 billion federal bailout plan.
Yet, despite what we hear from the media pundits, many small businesses like yours are poised to weather the economic downturn and even grow. While the current economic climate is undeniably tough, entrepreneurs like you are extremely adaptable and tend to be optimistic. In a recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association (NSBA), 75% of those surveyed said they're confident about the future of their own business.
These optimists aren't wearing rose-colored glasses; they're being responsible business leaders by avoiding the mistakes often made when times get tough. Here are some things you can do to keep your business on the right track:
- Don't panic (even though you may really want to). We've all seen the economy go through cycles - up, down, uncertain. Smart business owners manage their finances well and can usually ride out periods of economic uncertainty. Make smart choices about where to cut back and be smart about your spending at all times, regardless of how good the economic forecast is.
- Market, market, market. Don't cut your marketing spending now! By maintaining your marketing budget, or even increasing it slightly, you can stay visible and close to your customers (and prospects) while your competitors are tightening their marketing purse strings. You may not see growth in the down times, but you'll come out ahead in the long run.
- Don't lose focus. It's expected that people cut back their spending when they get nervous about the economy. For your photography business, that might translate into fewer bookings, smaller purchases, or both. No matter how tempting, don't add services to your business unless you intend to continue offering them long-term. For example, if you've intentionally stayed away from wedding photography, don't add it now just to generate more money. If you venture into something you really aren't passionate about, your customers will pick up on that and it will hurt your reputation.
- Learn from this financial crisis. The "good" that will come out of this is recognizing that excessive debt can be the downfall of even the most established and well-known business.
Stay positive, make smart choices about your business, and things will get better. We're here to help you be successful all the time.
Al Hopper, Director of Membership, Copyright & Government Affairs
P.S. Don't forget there's a wealth of business and marketing resources available to you at www.ppa.com/resources.