Business opportunities in an economic downturn | BDC.ca
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Economic downturn? An ideal time to eliminate waste and invest in your business

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Entrepreneurs are often reluctant to spend money to make acquisitions, expand capacity or open new markets during an economic downturn. However, downturns can be an ideal time to invest in your business.

Every recession creates opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs. And inaction doesn't mean safety in uncertain times. Rather than simply hope things will get better, you should act to improve your operations and position yourself for growth when the economy recovers.

 

What do you need to know?

Before investing, however, you need to be vigilant about spending and take a close look at your balance sheet.

Start by taking your company's pulse and making sure your finances are in order. You need to know if you're simply in survival mode or if you have extra capital to inject in your business.

It's important to turn over every stone. For example, take out all of your lending agreements and see if there's room for negotiation and more repayment flexibility. Also, watch your credit terms with suppliers to make sure you're getting the full bang for your buck.

Get lean

Improving operational efficiency is one of the best ways for entrepreneurs to invest now and see a payoff down the road. This is a great time to eliminate waste in your company, which also frees up capital. Be sure your processes are lean and delivering results.

Overproduction, defective products and poorly trained employees are just a few of the possible sources of waste that business owners should look for.

Also keep in mind that almost all businesses are affected by recessions, which offers good opportunities to take advantage of cheaper prices from suppliers of equipment and technology that could help to streamline your production.

You could also benefit from investing in outside advice to find ways of improving your operations. Bringing in an outside perspective could help you spot areas where you can be more efficient. A consultant can help identify your company's weaknesses and suggest how to overcome them.

Sizing up new markets

Exploring new markets is another area where investment might make sense during an economic downturn. As competitors fold, this is the time to take market share.

One of the first steps is to assess your market to see where the opportunities lie. Get out there and do research. You might want to consider an acquisition or potential alliances with other companies to gain access to new markets.

Launching new products and services, or at least improving existing ones, can also pay off during a recession. Scrutinize your customers' changing needs and make sure that your products or services are in tune with what they want. Keep your eye on your competitors and see where you can outshine them.

Look to your team

Getting employees involved in this process is paramount during a slowdown. Encourage your team to brainstorm and generate new ideas that could help you reach new clients. After all, your employees are on the frontline and have a lot of insight into market needs.

Ultimately, during tough times, it's important to keep a positive outlook rather than focus on a bleak picture. It takes courage to invest in times of uncertainty, but if you do it wisely, you'll see positive results down the road.

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