Small Business Survival Guide: What to Do During a Recession

recession survival guide

What is a Recession?

A recession is typically defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

A recession can be caused by various factors.

Factors such as a sharp decrease in consumer spending, an increase in unemployment, or a decrease in housing prices.

The current recession is global and is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current war in Ukraine.

The pandemic resulted in a decrease in consumer spending.

This in turn has led to a decrease in business revenue.

Meanwhile, the recent conflict in Ukraine has had a ripple effect on the global energy supplies, resulting in higher prices for oil and gas.

This has put a strain on small businesses that rely on these resources to power their operations.

Many businesses have had to lay off employees or even close their doors permanently.

The recession has also caused a decline in the stock market and an increase in unemployment.

If your small business is struggling during this difficult time, there are some things you can do to help it survive.


The Effects of a Recession on Small Businesses

When the economy dips into a recession, small businesses are among the first to feel the effects.

A recession can often cause a domino effect of decreased revenue, layoffs, and even business closures.

During a recession, consumers typically cut back on spending.

This can lead to less foot traffic and fewer sales for small businesses.

As revenue decreases, small businesses may have to lay off employees or reduce hours to cut costs.

In some cases, businesses may have to close their doors permanently.


How Small Businesses can Survive a Recession

While a recession can be difficult for any business, small businesses are particularly vulnerable.

Small businesses often don’t have the same resources as larger businesses to weather a downturn.

However, there are some things small businesses can do to survive a recession.


1. Control Costs

As a small business, it is important to keep costs down in order to survive during a recession.

This may mean cutting back on inventory or staff.

However, it is also important to maintain a good relationship with your customers and suppliers.


2. Manage Cashflow

It is also important to manage your cash flow carefully during a recession.

You may need to take out loans or lines of credit in order to keep your business afloat.

However, you should be careful not to overextend yourself.

Make sure you have a plan for how you will repay any debts you take on.


3. Reduce Energy Consumption

Especially in this recession, energy costs are going to continue to rise.

Look at ways to reduce your use of energy and save money.

There are a number of ways to cut down on energy usage, such as investing in energy-efficient equipment and retrofitting buildings for better insulation.

Small businesses can also band together to negotiate better rates with suppliers.

Simple measures like turning off lights and computers when they are not in use is an easy way to save energy.

Encouraging employees to carpool or take public transportation can also help reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

Alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind power should be explored as potential long-term solutions.

Taking steps to reduce energy consumption is good for both the environment and your bottom line.

You can also use your energy efficiency as a marketing message.

Your customers will know you are doing your bit to conserve our planetary resources.


4. Diversify Your Products

When it comes to recession-proofing your small business, one of the best things you can do is diversify your products or services.

That way, even if one area of your business is struggling, you’ve got other areas to fall back on.

For example, let’s say you own a small clothing boutique. In a recession, people might cut back on buying new clothes. But if you also offer personal styling services, you can still bring in revenue by helping people shop their own closets and put together new looks.

Or maybe you own a bakery. In a recession, people might not be buying as many cakes and cookies for special occasions. But if you also offer catering services, you can still get business from people hosting events at home instead of going out to restaurants.


5. Stay Positive

It is important to stay positive and adaptable during a recession.

Small businesses that are able to weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side are often the ones that are the most innovative and flexible.


6. Maintain or Increase Your Marketing

It is important to keep your marketing efforts going.

This will help bring in new customers and keep the business afloat.

There are a few things to keep in mind when marketing during a recession.

First, it is important to be creative and think outside the box.

Traditional marketing methods may not be as effective during a recession, so it is important to get creative.

Second, it is important to focus on value.

During a recession customers start to look around for alternative suppliers, especially those offering deals and discounts.

So, it is important to highlight the value of your products or services.

Finally, it is important to stay positive and optimistic.

This can be difficult during tough economic times, but customers will respond positively to businesses that seem upbeat and optimistic about the future.


7. Offer Discounts or Sales

Once you have implemented all the above, if you still need to save money you can consider offering your market discounts or sales.

Selling your value at a discount is never to be encouraged, as it is always difficult to increase prices later.

However, if you need immediate cash to keep your business afloat, offering a discount or sale will help attract customers who may be looking to save money during the recession.


Conclusion: Surviving a Recession Will Build a Stronger Business

While a recession can be painful for businesses and individuals alike, there are ways to weather the storm.

For small businesses, it’s important to focus on cash flow and controlling costs.

This may mean reducing inventory levels or deferring non-essential expenses.

It’s also important to stay focused on your customers and what they need during this time.

Recessions don’t last forever, and eventually the economy will rebound.

By taking steps to weather the storm now, your small business can come out the other side even stronger.

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Written by 

Co-Founder & CEO of Link Management Group. An Investor & Coach to Small Business Owners, for the past 30 years I have helped startup and early-stage businesses to enter new markets and achieve sustainable growth of both revenue and profits. I have experience across a diverse range of sectors including central government, information services, software, health insurance, pet products, couture fashion, entertainment and aviation.  How can I help your organisation accelerate growth and achieve its full potential? 

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