Look at the big picture

During tough times, the normal first instinct for business owners is to simply attack the most obvious problems. While some of those changes might be necessary, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate your business as a whole. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s working? Evaluate all of your products and services to determine which are most profitable. These are the primary drivers of your business and should be the focus of your efforts moving forward.

  • What needs to stop? Be realistic here! Examine products and offerings that aren’t necessary and potentially distract from your businesses’ main focus. In which case, these need to either be scaled back or completely gotten rid of.

  • Where can we improve? Ideas can include new products, new marketing, new ways to serve customers, new approaches to social media, or upgrading your website. Surviving tough economic times means adapting to the current market and identifying needs your business can fulfill.

Be more efficient

Jot down all the business processes you carry out each week. When you can chart out each process step-by-step, it’s easier to identify areas where you can make improvements. Take a good look at how you and your employees spend your time each day. Consider talking with your banker to learn about how technology can be used to improve your cash position. Finding ways to save a few hours per week can help you reduce costs. Secondly, make a list of all expenses and cancel everything that is discretionary to your business. Be wise in the way you examine your budget and seek sound advice before you start to cut spending. 

Ensure access to cash

Cash is the lifeblood of your business. Establishing a good relationship with your local bank is a great first step to obtain access to important cash flow. A knowledgeable loan officer can help you prepare for what’s needed to obtain a loan, or how to open a line of credit.

Don’t sacrifice quality

When difficult times come, maintaining a close watch on all expenses is important. However, make sure that the changes you implement do not affect the overall quality of your products. You may save money in the short term, but customers will notice the change in quality and you could lose valuable long term customers as a result. The key is to make cost and other cuts that don’t compromise product quality or the customer experience.

Make sure you’re covered

If you have to scrutinize your business expenses even more closely and cut down insurance costs, take caution to make sure there aren’t any gaps in your coverage that will leave you in even more trouble. Speak with one of our agents to make sure your business is covered in all areas it needs to be in the event that something unexpected happens.

Build a community

Remember, you’re not alone! We have a strong community of small businesses here in West Michigan. Be intentional about surrounding yourself with the right people that can give you new perspectives to help your business. Local First is a great place to start. With the help of their online directory and community wide events, Local First focuses on creating a network of local businesses to support a people first economy here in West Michigan.

We're here to help!

Navigating difficult times isn’t easy, especially trying to do it alone. That’s why we build strong relationships with our customers and create solutions to help your business thrive. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 616.559.7000, stop by your local branch or contact one of our knowledgeable Commercial Lenders today and let us help you get the answers you need.

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