In recent weeks, phone calls have been rolling in from clients and would-be clients having issues with their banks.
Often, the banks are putting them in workout situations or are otherwise tightening their loans. As you might expect, this is causing a great deal of concern, not to mention potentially killing their credit.
As I stated before, I'm no economist, but worried banks are an early sign of a recession. Maybe we hit a recession--and maybe we don't--but it's safe to say we aren't in a boom period, and the economy is likely to be tumultuous for at least the first half of 2019.
That's why you need to be prepared.
That means if your bank is considering workout solutions, start looking for alternatives now, instead of later. It's kind of the same principle as an employee looking for another job when they know their employer is unhappy with them.
By being ahead of the curve, you leave yourself with more options.
For example, you might consider turning a straight line of credit into an asset-based line of credit secured by accounts receivable, which adds a layer of safety for both you and the lender.
And if the government shutdown ever ends, SBA-secured products always offer a nice mix of good rates and favorable repayment terms. Consider revamping your less-favorable funding.
Protecting your cash flow is of the utmost importance, so any way you can think to keep money available is worth considering. That means keeping your personal credit in excellent shape, which gives you better odds of securing additional capital when you need it. So, don't go buy that new boat or Porsche on credit now.
In tough times, pinching pennies can help.
One ultimate benefit of a recession is that it makes the economy stronger by weeding out weak companies and putting an end to poor business practices. The "Great Recession" a decade ago caused a lot of pain, but new regulations and common sense by lenders stopped practices such as letting borrowers with $30,000 in annual income and a credit score of 620 get $600,000 mortgages that featured balloon payments and other onerous terms.
One way to save money is by tightening your inventory management practices. Keeping a more limited supply of inventory can be helpful, and you should also check to see if a different supplier can give you better pricing.
In addition, consider an extreme focus on your core competencies. Stick to what you do best, although, as I mentioned in a previous post, continue to pursue a primary objective for 2019.
This idea is a bit out of the box, but now is not the time to cut back on marketing/advertising/public relations. Typically, when the economy goes south, promotional efforts are the first thing to be axed, in part because it's hard to see tangible results from them.
In tough times, you need to be courting new customers, which you can't do if potential clients aren't finding out about you. Now is the time to make hay, especially since many of your competitors will be cutting back. You might find you have more space in your field to make a name.
Not convinced? Consider why well-established brands still promote themselves. Id there anyone who doesn't know Coca-Cola? The company is always out there promoting itself to stay top of mind. Your business is not on the same level, so you need as much recognition as possible.