This was in the Orlando Sentinal and it makes a lot of sense. 2009 will be a tough year!
Business advice: Take care of your customers
ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 9, 2009 – What does one of Central Florida’s top economists have to say about operating a small business in a recession?
Evolve. Take care of your customers. And don’t cut corners.
Sean Snaith, an economist with the University of Central Florida, spoke recently to small-business owners during an economic forecast sponsored by the school’s Small Business Development Center in downtown Orlando.
“When times are good, even bad businesses can stay in business,” Snaith said. “If you can survive it, then I think you thrive when we get to the next expansion.”
To survive the “economic Darwinism” that occurs during a recession, Snaith suggested that businesses expand their offerings and focus on customer-care strategies, including being empathetic.
“Consumers are under siege,” he said. “To keep them spending their money at your business requires a little bit of extra effort on your part.”
While business owners may have to cut costs in hard times, Snaith cautioned against cutting corners or being short-sighted. Marketing still matters – and small-business owners can use phone calls, e-mails and their Web site to reach out to customers in a low-cost way.
“Not every type of marketing requires spending money,” Snaith said.
For Florida, 2009 will be a “lost year” that’s all about survival, Snaith said. He expects an economic recovery to begin in 2010. Commercial real estate will be the bad news story of the year, he said.
“The good news is, I think once we get out of this recession, we’ll see a decent recovery,” he said.
Small businesses, big fears
Small-business owners aren’t as optimistic as they used to be, and the National Small Business Association hopes that sends a strong message to Congress.
In a year-end survey of small businesses, 75 percent of the respondents cited economic uncertainty as one of their top three challenges, up from 53 percent in August.
More than a third of those surveyed were not confident about the future of their business, the association said.
“Coming from traditionally upbeat entrepreneurs, this number ought to send a strong message to Congress – as they craft an economic-stimulus package – that small business is struggling,” association President Todd McCracken said in a prepared statement.
The National Small Business Association has lobbied lawmakers to consider key small-business issues, including expanding small-business lending and requiring that a certain amount of any infrastructure-stimulus funds be awarded as contracts to small business.
Copyright © 2009 The Orlando Sentinel, Fla., Sara K. Clarke. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.