It's an unfortunate reality that the US economy isn't exactly in perfect condition at the moment. Recessions are never pleasant to deal with, especially combined with sky-high inflation and a flailing labor market. Overall, times are getting tough again for small business owners still working their way out of the post-COVID rubble.
Doom and gloom aside though, there are a few things business owners can do to help ride out the storm and come out on the other side stronger than ever. Strategic utilization of technology is one of those things. Here are a few things which can help ease the pain of the current economic downturn.
Automate, automate, automate!
Automation is something which can always improve efficiency in day-to-day operations. The key is in determining what to automate and the approach to doing so.
Look for basic tasks which one or more employees do on a daily basis and have one or two consistent features. These features can be workflows, data points or even physical steps. The rule of thumb is "anything that can be repeated, can be automated". For example, a client of ours has secretary and one of her former jobs was to enter numbers from a spreadsheet into their sales and inventory tracking system every day. We were able to save an hour of time every day by automating this process and allowing her to directly feed the spreadsheet into their inventory software and update the values automatically.
Making recurring tasks something that take minimal input can help free up employee time to focus on work which drives more value, improving efficiency and helping keep growth afloat.
Tools to cast a wider prospect net
There is a plethora of software tools available nowadays to find, track, communicate with and ultimately close prospects. CRM tools like Hubspot or Salesforce are fairly well known for keeping track of prospects, customers and more. They allow more efficient management of customers and the customer lifecycle which means fewer missed follow-ups, and forgotten leads and more incoming business.
Of course, you need to have prospects in order to track them. This is where tools like seamless.ai and Uplead can come into play. LinkedIn's Sales Navigator is also a popular choice. These tools can help generate prospect lists including the people you need to contact to start a conversation.
Of course, some businesses rely solely on inbound leads (ie: prospects calling them). In these cases, in addition to reviewing your more traditional marketing (advertisement, event marketing, etc), you should review your website search engine optimization (SEO). Tools like SEOInspector and Yost can help optimize your web pages and maximize their effectiveness, ensuring anyone who might be looking for you can find you.
Review security and continuity postures
It's not flashy, and many small business owners unfortunately treat it like an afterthought when times get tight, but ensuring technology security and continuity is maintained is even more important during hard times than it is during good times.
Cyber criminals and hackers aren't going to slow down their efforts simply because times are tough. In fact, the exact opposite usually happens and attackers get more aggressive. The absolute last thing you want during potentially lean times is a breach, attack or other event to disrupt operations. It can be painful to a business on a good day, but absolutely devastating if you're working to stay afloat.
It's hard to keep everybody happy in lean times, but it's also important to keep those times from getting even leaner. The vast majority of businesses rely on technology for their day-to-day operations. Make sure you keep that reliance hedged.
Weathering the storm
It's shaping up to be a tough couple of quarters for small business owners. With some strategic investment, and utilization of the right technologies however, it's more than possible to ride things out and come out on the other side stronger than ever.