With a little discipline, good organization, and planning, small businesses can safely survive an economic downturn. Here are a few suggestions on how to stay afloat:
1. Stay in touch with your cash flow. Focus on the areas where your cash is being held up, such as inventory, equipment purchases, and accounts receivable. By doing so, you will be in a position to improve your current cash flow and predict a future shortfall.
2. Consolidate or restructure your debts. Bring together debt from loans, credit cards, or any other lines of credit. Negotiate with creditors for a longer repayment period.
3. Look for ways to cut costs. You could, for example, cut down on old and obsolete inventory, and save on paper and postage through the direct deposit of payroll.
4. Streamline your billing system. You need to on top of your customer receivables. There are several accounting software programs on the market, such as QuickBooks, that can help you keep track of who has paid and automatically alert you when bills are overdue.
5. Tighten your credit policy. Set stricter terms and conditions for receiving credit. You could require a down payment at purchase, shorten the payment period, and only extend credit to select customers.
6. Use assertive debt collection techniques. Know when to make phone calls, send written requests for payment, and statements, and know when it is time to hand it over to a collection agency.
7. Put off any plans for expansion. It is better to stick to what you are already good at and just try to make it better.
8. Negotiate with your suppliers. You can try to barter down what you are paying your suppliers. If you have a long term relationship with any of your suppliers then you may be able to get better credit terms.
9. Outsource certain jobs or tasks. Business owners can take advantage of a growing pool of professional freelance workers for any job or project that will take away from the business. This is a cheaper option to hiring employees, and you can get some quality work.
10. Focus on customer satisfaction. Work on retaining the customer base that you have built up with follow-through, good customer service, and quality control.
11. Know your financing options. Know where to get money before you need it. Some financing options are based on future sales and have flexible repayments, such as invoice factoring or merchant/ business cash advances. Focus on building relationships with current lenders, and do not forget about any family or friends who may be able to help you out in a pinch.