- Start with a clear vision for the business – Why do you exist? How do you create value? What are the things that you will do and, most importantly, won’t do?
- Make sure you really understand the market and your competitors and your own strengths and weaknesses
- Get close and personal with your customers – you need to understand them better than anyone else does (especially your competitors) and in tough economic times they will be more discerning and discriminating about what they buy and what they need
- Innovate, innovate, innovate! If you can’t afford to improve your product then be more creative in your marketing. Try different ways of serving your customers.
- Zero-base your business structure – what organization structure would you need to deliver your goals if you were starting from scratch now? What can be outsourced?
- How can you make better use of the talent at your disposal?
- Invest in advertising – but spend smarter and measure its effectiveness
- Collaborate with employees, customers and suppliers to develop ideas that build the business or save you money – and reward them for doing it
- Negotiate better deals with your suppliers
- Invest in “good costs” but prune bad ones
- Chase receivables and incentivise customers for early payment
- Communicate transparently with employees – they need to see the big picture
- Find ways to keep employees’ (and your own) morale and motivation up, at low cost
- Look for ways to add value, service or flexibility rather than just cutting prices or discounting
- Get 2 steps ahead of competition – pull forward projects that they might delay
And always keep smiling!