RECESSION is a reality: if it hasn't arrived already, it's certainly on its way.
The prime minister says so, as does the governor of The Bank of England. And it's likely to be with us for a year or two - so what can we do about it?
Even the most pessimistic forecasters are not anticipating a decline of more than one per cent in the economy in the coming 12 months, which means most of us should do 99 per cent of the business next year that we're doing now - so don't panic.
But new customers will be harder to find - we will need to do more prospecting to achieve the same level of success.
In that respect we could all help ourselves by focusing on a core market - instead of trying to be all things to all people and pleasing nobody.
For example, we should ask for an advance list for any networking event we propose to attend. We should earmark four or five people we regard as strong prospects and are determined to meet. And we should also plan our follow up.
But before we can identify likely prospects accurately we need to know precisely who we see as our target audience. Isn't that blindingly obvious? You might think so, but it's surprising how many people haven't asked the question, let alone answered it.
We all need a formal marketing plan, preferably one we have tested on someone outside our circle of friends and family; someone we trust to ask positive, but sometimes awkward questions.
And we need to answer those questions to his or her satisfaction, even if that means making fundamental changes to the product or service we are promoting.
We can update the marketing plan in the light of experience, but always by building on our appeal to specific sectors or types of prospective customers.
Focus is the key to recession-proofing for any business, but particularly a smaller one, and if business support organisations want to be really helpful at the present time they will offer one-to-one analysis sessions to allow us to do just that.
For our part, we need to be ready to hear and act upon what may not always be a welcome message.
Being your own boss is only possible if there is a market for whatever it is you want to sell - at this time more than any other in the economic cycle, keeping the customer satisfied must be your prime motive.
Croydon Eye is a weekly commentary written exclusively for The Best of Croydon by David Callam and posted in the blog section every Thursday.
David Callam is a freelance journalist and the former business editor of The Croydon Advertiser. For more examples of his work and to see what he could do for your business please visit www.callamedia.co.uk
Member since: 10th July 2012
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