Friday, September 26, 2014

Roll with the punch

     Free tips, info, advice, ideas and examples from real businesses--
     from personal experience starting, operating and growing businesses of my own.

     In small business, your business is you. You roll with the punch.

     Economic downturns, endless regulations, employees who do you a favor just by showing up, cash flow problems--it's enough to get you depressed.

     All this and there's never enough money to grow and expand. 

     Example: When the current economy went south, Rita noticed a significant downturn in orders at her florist shop. It seemed that weddings were downsized, parties were postponed, and Mother's Day orders struggled to hold their own. Rita knew she had to roll with the punch. In the face of declining revenue, she decided to expand. With fewer orders, she had more time on her hands. No longer would she depend on the phone ringing. Instead, she began offering fresh flower arrangements to corporations, banks and professional offices--creating a new market for her florist shop. She partnered with a caterer to furnish fresh flower arrangements at events--creating another new market she did not serve before. She joined two networking groups. With these initiatives, Rita is riding out the economic downturn. She is not just surviving, her florist shop will come out of this difficult period with a wider and more diverse customer base.

     When sales decline, owners of small businesses get moving. They figure out alternatives to face the problem head-on. 

     Example: Ella runs a yoga studio. She holds classes and offers private sessions. When her lease was almost up, the landlord notified Ella that the rent would be doubling. She had sixty days to solve the problem. Her alternatives were slim--pay the new rent amount, find another space, or find a compatible business partner. Ella proposed sharing space with a massage specialist who worked from home and was building a client base. They found a new space, large enough to accommodate both. By splitting the space and the rent, Ella's half of the monthly amount was less than she had been paying. By sharing space, both could continue focusing on business without interfering with the other.

     Non-competing small businesses can frequently hold down expenses by sharing space. Artists and artisans, holistic practitioners and other partnerships can use this technique.

     Example: Edward started his small baking operation by renting a local restaurant's licensed kitchen on days when the restaurant was closed. Here he baked brownies, cookies and other treats. Over time, Edward built up his business by selling more and more bakery items to area businesses, organizations, corporations and others. Suddenly the restaurant owner announced that he was retiring, closing, moving on--Edward would have about six months to make other arrangements for a licensed kitchen. Edward scrambled to find a suitable place, agree to a lease, buy used baking equipment, get it installed and inspected, and transition his baking to his new place. Today, Edward's bakery offers a wide variety of bakery items to area restaurants, caterers, and others. He built the customer base first, then worried about establishing a place of his own.

     Finding ways to grow and expand takes creative thinking. But owners of small businesses are nothing if not creative. The answer is found in three words. Never give up.

     You'll find many more examples of rolling with the punch in these write-ups. Every business faces problems. Unexpected disasters, economic downturns, sudden loss of a major client, employee problems, technology--the list is endless. But you roll with the punch and keep going.   

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