By Calvin Luttrell
May 21, 2009
If you are running an online e-commerce Web site and you’re still in business feel free to pat yourself on the back. We’re in a retail recessional which may have hit your sales from 10 to 100 percent. A lot of companies reported a 40 to 50 percent decrease in online sales of pure play retail before the bank crisis of last year. Some industries are hit harder than others, and some stores are still, in fact, thriving.
If you asked me if your business will make it or not, I would say that is entirely up to you. Many things will come to change. Many people will be blamed. You, however, can take responsibility for your part. Keep your situation calm, and you won’t be as affected by what people in the masses are experiencing.
People tend to fall into two categories at this point. One company will go on, without changing anything, in hopes that things will fix themselves. It is understandable to believe your business will succeed even in tough times. The other mood is to make many changes to sustain viability. This person is going to hustle to do everything they can to save a family business or a business which has done well in the past. You have to look at your options, but use the best of breed approach. This could mean you review everything you do in business and at least see if some change is warranted. After all, if the house is on fire you will have to get out eventually.
Every business is different and if we are generalizing here you should use the ideas to gauge your situation. I would consider a business without resources, in the way of savings or a line of credit short of 90 days of their operating cost, at the point of some level of risk. If you are completely dependent on credit, you may lose your credit line or have it decreased even if you pay on time. Many people have written excellent articles about moving on and leaving the history in the past, and many have written articles on how we got here. So I will focus more on how to hang on to the business you have and weather the financial storm.
If your business is in the “at risk” category, you should consider reviewing the following ideas and see if they can benefit your situation in the short or long term. If your business is real trouble, check with the local SBA office to see if your business can qualify for a government-backed business loan. Under the Recovery Bill passed by the U.S. Congress you could qualify for loans. Also, under the Obama plan, you can sell stock of a privately held corporation without capital gains tax in new or recent business. If you are a longstanding business, you, too, can benefit by writing losses back five years presuming you had a profitable year to write off on. If you can’t benefit from any of these things that doesn’t mean you are without hope.
Social networking on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other online social tools can be a useful way to connect your work to the people you know or even online customers. Specifically, try to connect with people who know other people and like to talk and sell their friends. These special friends are people who are willing and open to promoting your business and services to their friends, even without you asking them to. In fact, they enjoy doing it. That’s the significance of word of mouth marketing on social mediums like Facebook, My Space or even on your own blog. Unfortunately, these tools are only as good as your networking skills. Make this a life skill, something you work on a little at a time, forever.
Networking is a long standing practice in business cultures. Consider the chamber of commerce in your local neighborhood. These institutions have been around for many years. Don’t just ignore the more modern versions of networking. What makes them very valuable is that they are not forced interactions, but rather legitimate conversations about you and what your company offers. When people like you, they naturally try to find you business or talk about the products that you’re selling.
Calvin Luttrell credits his experience as a senior support technician at GoldMine Software for providing exposure and instilling the values that would later become the cornerstone of his business ethos: To develop and maintain an environment of mutual support and encouragement, where a team works together to achieve a common goal. For more information visit www.projectthunder.com.