Managing resources to flourish in a down economy

Question: I have a small manufacturing company, and with the current economy, we are striving to keep going and growing. What suggestions can you give us to better manage our resources?

Answer: During periods of economic decline, entrepreneurs often experience the brunt of the downturn. But there are things you can do to maintain a strong position. It is important to create a more cost-effective and efficient operation so you continue to flourish now and be in a good position to do even better once the market improves.

Entrepreneurs who survive and prosper during tough times are those who look beyond the present, see their firm from a new perspective, and adjust to doing business differently. The challenge is to be both aggressive and imaginative.

In an article for www.smallbiztrends.com, Prasad Thammineni lists five steps to help small businesses save money:

1. Set the tone. Your team will take their cues from you, so remind them of the importance of being frugal this year. Then solicit ideas on areas where the company can economize. It's all about setting the tone and getting your employees bought in.

2. Check subscriptions and recurring charges. Review your monthly expenses. Small, recurring charges can add up over the course of 12 months.

3. Plan for taxes. It's never too early to talk with your accountant about tax strategies for the new year.

4. Create an expenditure plan. As a competent business owner, you probably already know a large percentage of the big expenditures you'll need to make in the coming year. Put all this down in a spreadsheet, and estimate the dollar amount and the purchase date. Getting all the items on paper will help you visualize your big cash outflows for the year, and will help you prepare to make more intelligent purchasing decisions.

5. Check out Anita Campbell's 2009 e-book on small business money-saving tips at http://smallbiztrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/get_outrageously_creative6.pdf. She lists 75 ways your business can save money and prepare for growth.

Jeff Wuorio, a veteran freelance writer, says in www.microsoft.com/business, "Every small business owner knows that new technology can be pricey. But technology can also pay in the form of significant savings - particularly over the long haul. Savings from technology isn't just a matter of plugging in a new gizmo and watching the cash roll in. You have to evaluate your priorities and choose the right technology that meets your operating and budgetary requirements."

Wuorio lists seven ways to cut costs:

1. Cut down on paper use. Investing in a duplex printer can cut your paper use in half.

2. Advertise on the Internet. This cost-effective option allows easy tracking of results to readily identify what works and what doesn't.

3. Communication above all. With small businesses, staying in touch is essential and can save money.

4. Don't buy software on a piecemeal basis.

5. Make sure your technology is adequately protected.

6. Encourage telecommuting.

7. Can't afford it? Meet it halfway. Investigate updates and other cost-effective improvements that let you operate more efficiently. Then, invest in the most current technology when your budget allows.

And don't forget to consult your SCORE counselor, review your business plan and make appropriate changes. You can rely on SCORE for the resources to help you understand how to economize and grow your business.

SCORE is recruiting volunteer counselors. Are you working or retired, and have corporation, small business, nonprofit or other business experience? Become involved in your community and share your knowledge, experience and leadership skills. Contact Northern Arizona SCORE at 778-7438, score@northlink.com, or www.scorenaz.org.