Five Hints for Surviving a Business Slump

by Vishal P. Rao

Starting and running a home-based business has plenty of benefits and can generate a decent living quite easily, but the ride isn't always simple. When sales are slow or new customers are sparse, you don't need to throw in the towel and call it quits.

Business is a cycle. Sometimes it's booming and other times it's not, but neither state is permanent. The difference is that while business is booming, your biggest concern is meeting the needs of your multitude of customers. When things are not, you may be scrambling to keep everything on track.

Below you will find a few suggestions about what to do and what not to do when your home-based business hits a slump:

1) Keep in Touch with Past Customers

When business is going great, you may have a tendency to forget those past clients who helped get you where you are today. Yet, when things slow down, they can be your safety rope. Now is the time to drop them a friendly email or note with a pleasant message.

Don't come across as needy and don't tell them you are experiencing slowdown, but do ask them to keep you in mind if they have need of your services or if they know of any colleagues who may be in need as well.

Be sure to include your business card or contact information just in case they've misplaced it since you last worked together.

2) Avoid Cutting Prices

If sales stagnate, you may be tempted to boost business by dropping prices. While a temporary sale or special offer may attract new customers, if you expect to cut prices across the board in order to raise revenue then you may be making a mistake in judgment.

When a new customer can pay $25 for your product during a slowdown, how are they going to react when you try to raise that price back up to $35 or $45 after things pick up? Once you lower prices, it's difficult to get them pack up again, so cut prices only as a last resort.

3) Make Budget Changes Carefully

When revenue is dripping in instead of pouring, you may need to trim some budgets, but be careful to make those reductions wisely. Your first instinct may be to cut back on staffing, distribution, or customer service. While these changes may help in the short term, they may cause you to lose clients in the long run.

Never make any budget alterations that might end up hurting your customers and costing you business.

4) Never Skimp on Quality or Quantity

Two things determine customer satisfaction: quality and quantity. If you are trying to cut corners in order to save money, you may consider making alternations in these two vital areas.

However, doing so may throw your business into more peril than any temporary downturn in the cycle. When you provide services or products which fail to meet the customers' expectations, you put yourself in a position to lose repeat business, and repeat business is where the money is.

Also, remember that happy customers are likely to tell others how satisfied they were with your company. Likewise, unhappy customers typically don't hide their dissatisfaction. Maintaining your current level of quality and quantity, or even increasing it, should be among your top priorities.

5) Never Appear Desperate

People like to do business with those who are successful. Therefore, if you approach potential clients with the air of desperation in your voice, you are more likely to scare them away than enlist their aid during this difficult period.

Examples of desperation may not just be obvious in what you say to your customers but also in what you do. For instance, if you significantly reduce your quote in order to secure their business, you may be sending them the wrong message. Stay positive and optimistic. After all, nothing attracts business like a good attitude.

By following these suggestions, you'll be able to tackle those bumps in the road and still come out on top of the game.


Vishal P. Rao is the owner of
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