Small business must be PROACTIVE to survive


Small businesses must continually focus on how they can improve.

The small business operator tends to be reactive instead of proactive. When times are good, we become complacent and forget about the basics. Then, when the marketplace changes, we sit around wondering what we are going to do and how we will stay in business.

The typical small business owner reacts at crisis time, when there is not enough cash in their checking account to pay their bills.

Well, let me be straightforward. In good times and bad times we need to constantly understand how the marketplace is changing. Customers’ needs and wants change, competition changes and products/services change. The common mistake is that we keep on chugging along, doing what we have always done because it is easier not to change. It is easier than admit that our customers no longer value our product/services. In today’s marketplace, customers have unlimited choices of what, when and where to buy their products and to get their services. They are no longer restricted by geographic boundaries or lack of mobility. Buyers don’t have to buy local; it’s just as easy to buy online. So what are your options?

■ You can sit around and complain you are losing customers, revenue is decreasing and cash inflow is not keeping up with cash outflow. You can complain it is not your fault and blame someone or something else for your problems such as the bad economy, the building industry, the tight money situation, the housing market or just the fact that customers don’t have any money to spend due to the high unemployment rates.

■ You can reevaluate what you are doing: Consider what products/services you are selling? How are you selling your products/services? Which products are profitable and which ones are losing money? What’s your marketing techniques and understanding what is working and what isn’t? Who’s your customers and how have they changed? Show vision in what customers want today and what they will want in the future.

Also, which costs are fixed and which are variable? This is important for you to see what costs can be reduced and which ones you are locked into. Competition has changed and the rules have changed. The owners must wear many hats, have many skill-sets and be multitasking.

I challenge you to reevaluate what you are doing and how you are doing them. To evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the marketplace. To understand how your little world has changed and how you can change and adapt to those changes. You are not alone in this big world of business.

Neil Shnider, MBA, CPA, CVA and provides services to small and medium sized businesses in the areas of cash management, growth, and taxes. He can be contacted at nshnider@theshnidergroup.com or 614-582-0108. Also, go to www.theshnidergroup.com for more information.