Belfast Telegraph

Capitalising on your business strengths is vital in this downturn

Question: Are there any steps I can take to give my business the best chance of survival during the economic downturn?

Bill Scott, director, InvestNI answers:

IN difficult times such as those we are facing at the moment, it is important to do everything possible to safeguard your business, although of course there are never any guarantees. But being aware of how healthy your business is — and how healthy your customers are — is a vital first step.

Take a good look at the key areas of your business, such as cashflow, profit margins, overheads, who your customers are, and staff performance. That will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business.

It’s very important not to have all of your eggs in one basket, so if you currently depend on just a few key customers, it is advisable to seek out new markets and customers so that you are protected if you lose a key contract.

Keeping your costs to a minimum is also important, and it’s worth checking for better deals than you currently have with utilities providers, contractors and suppliers, and even your bank.

Many businesses find that managing cashflow is the most difficult task in the current climate. To try to keep your cashflow healthy, make sure you know your cash position at all times. Tighten up your credit control, and if necessary reduce stock to release funds.

It’s important also to keep up morale among your staff, who may be worried about job security. Make sure you keep them informed about your business’ position. You may find they are willing to work reduced hours for a while to help you over particularly difficult trading periods.

It’s worth checking out Invest NI’s website for practical advice on managing in a downturn.

Belfast Telegraph