This Recession is Great!

December 16, 2008 Updated: December 16, 2008

Admit it. You got a little lazy and a little complacent during the boom, didn’t you? You were busy counting the money coming in, figuring out how you were going to spend your profits, and where your next vacation was going to be. And then, your business (like just about every one else’s) took a hit.

Now what? Start layoffs? Close up shop? Not necessarily—these struggles can actually be a fantastic way to strengthen your business and come back healthier in the future.

The first thing you need to do is speak honestly with your staff. Let them know that they will be expected to work longer, harder and still may face layoffs. If you are honest with your employees, and let them know what you expect from them, and support them, you may be surprised at how well your best employees respond.

And what about those marginal employees? You know who I’m referring to—they are a little late, have a little bit of attitude, or just don’t “get it.” Now is the time to let them go. However, do not release your leaders or best performers. This can truly crush morale, and make your “comeback” much more complicated when you are poised for growth in the future.

The next item on your itinerary is to eliminate waste. Go through all of your expenses item by item on your profit and loss sheet as well as your credit card statement. Get rid of the lunches and fun stuff, cut the software tools that you rarely use, and yes, forget about the Christmas bonus.

But don’t stop marketing. You’ll find that you’ve been a little complacent about watching every penny, now that you need every penny in order to save jobs.

Additionally, negotiate with your vendors and ask them for discounts. They’d rather see a decrease in price than lose a customer. And, if you aren’t that thrilled with your vendor, then start looking for a new one who will provide better prices and better service. Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors if you can barter with them. This is a great way to save cash.

Finally, start developing business by getting aggressive with your marketing. This has to include you and your senior staff members picking up the phone and calling potential partners. Everyone is hurting and fighting for their jobs. I randomly emailed a $250 million dollar company, and they responded within 30 minutes. This was unheard of. Why? Because they need to generate new revenue streams as well.

Once you make these adjustments, and get used to running your business on a lower revenue stream, you’ll find that your company will be leaner, hungrier, and more ready for growth once the economy stablizes.

Joe Witte is a partner at Logo Design Guru and a writer for SOHOBLOG , and has successfully started 3 small businesses including CentricSource and Travel Ad Network.