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Weathering Economic Turbulence

(August 2008) posted on Wed Aug 13, 2008

Get some belt-tightening tips for surviving an economic slowdown and find out how to emerge stronger and more profitable when business picks up again.


By Gordon Roberts

Whether or not the Federal Reserve is willing to call the extend-ed period of economic bad news a recession makes little difference to the average small-business owner. I have talked to enough small-business people to realize that whatever the academics in Washington ultimately decide to call the current economic climate, their definition will not match some of the colorful expressions that I’ve been hearing.

The story is the same everywhere I go. We all posted one of the best years ever in 2007, despite the dire predictions, and everything looked great through February of this year. Then the bottom fell out. As soon as the bad news started rolling in, it seemed the spigot turned itself off and we were caught scrambling, fighting desperately for whatever work was available. I have seen for the first time in quite a few years the look of desperation on the faces of many of my professional compadres. A few of them already have all but thrown in the towel. It’s time to step back from the pressures of trying to stay afloat, take a deep breath, and look a little more closely at the bigger picture. This just might be the best thing that ever happened to your shop.

Those who have been around for a while will tell you that a downturn in the economy always favors a screen-printing business in the long run. Screen-printed graphics are still the most cost-effective media out there. Our customers get a lot of bang for their merchandising buck from trusted, local screen shops, and many businesses have been forced to cut their high-end marketing budgets to a point where our services are becoming very attractive again.

Slowly, but surely—and with a lot of hard work—you will be able to land some great new accounts outside of your usual customer base. This will potentially position your company to move to the next level as soon as the economy picks up. When it does, you will find that many of your less resilient competitors are gone, and you can emerge stronger, more efficient, and more competitive into the good times that will return. The hardest part is making sure that you are still in business when that happens. So let’s circle the wagons and make a few changes to get ourselves through this tough patch.

 

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