Recession Hacks: Strategic Planning Tools

By Todd Ballowe

Recession Hacks: Strategic Planning Tools

20 Essential Business Tips to Get Through a Slump in the Economy

Throughout our Ultimate Recession Planning Toolkit, you’ll find a wealth of information, but here’s a collection of some of the best of it- boiled down to a list you can print up to bring to your recession planning meeting or keep nearby to reference throughout your day.

  1. Don’t cut your marketing budget
    • Especially if your competitor has reduced their marketing, you can increase your market share for less than it would cost during a strong economy
    • Shuffle spending if you must.
  2. Utilize Budgets Unconventionally:
    • Find creative ways to stretch your budgets instead of eliminating them. It doesn’t have to take forever- just buy a lunch and plan a brainstorming session with your staff.
  3. Departments: Justify your Expenses & Investments:
    • This is essential during a downturn because businesses are looking for places to trim costs.
    • Do your research and make sure each investment you spend money on is sound & easy to justify to accounting
    • Once you lose part of your budget you may not be able to get it back- Make sure it’s secure now rather than later.
  4. Continue networking
    • Don’t slack on strengthening your relationships. Partnerships, mentors and comrades all come in handy during a recession for different reasons.
    • Do it now- once times are lean, people don’t socialize as much. At that point, it’s tough to break into people’s social circles
  5. Satisfy your oldest and most loyal customers
    • These are the ones who have always stuck by you- make sure you reward them when you can and take care of their needs
    • They don’t want to build new relationships during a recession either, so don’t give them a reason to!
  6. Protect your competitive advantage & look for new opportunities to gain an edge
    • Your competitors will be stretched thin- this could be the time to seek new opportunities that they can’t capitalize on
    • If you manage to put something aside before lean times hit, it’ll make it that much easier to act fast on opportunities like acquisitions, etc…
  7. Look out for markets that grow or emerge during recessions
    • Certain markets are poised to take advantage of lean times. Look for these in the markets you work in and around
  8. Give your current customers special treatment
    • They may need leniency or special advice to make it though a recession as well
    • Get them through and you’ve won their loyalty
  9. Research your target market: don’t cut marketing research budgets.
    • Consumers have particular patterns during recessions and knowing them can make or break you
    • Our article on marketing budgets have some examples of consumer habits during recessions
  10. Make sure you keep your best employees
    • Remember, they’re feeling the pinch, may be tempted to look for a higher paying job if they can find it
    • You don’t need extra costs related to turnover during a recession
    • Remember: keeping employees happy doesn’t have to mean paying them more. Look for examples other businesses are doing to retain employees without raising budgets.
  11. Be prepared to make hard choices related to cutting expenses
    • Know what decisions you would make before you have to
    • If you absolutely had to lay anyone off, who would you keep and who could you lose?
  12. Maintain great relationships with your vendors
    • If you have to stretch payments, don’t overtax the relationship. Commit to pay at a date later than you can, so you can exceed expectations.
  13. If things are tight, pay off all the little bills first
    • You’ll spend as much time and energy answering calls from the little guys as you do from the big ones.
    • Your bigger vendors will work with you because they can’t afford to lose your account outright.
  14. Develop more efficient systems
    • You have the time to invest in training or retraining staff if business is slow
    • Your company’s increased efficiency will pay off when things pick up
  15. Dump slow-moving inventory to free up money and space
    • This is always a good idea, but at times like this it’s essential.
    • Offer it at a deep-discount to your loyal customers
  16. Make friends with two banks – They’ll be feeling the pinch, too.
    • Develop good relationships with people who can lend to you in at least two different banks. This increases your chances if you need to act fast on an opportunity during the downturn.
    • Make sure they understand your business, and keep them informed about what you’re doing to thrive during the recession
  17. Be ready to acquire
    • Be sure to network constantly, so you’re aware early when opportunities arise (ie you may hear that a competitor wants to get out of the industry)
  18. Alter your marketing messages to take advantage of recession trends
    • Utilize marketing that stresses family and takes advantage of home-bound habits.
    • Economic uncertainty causes people to stay home & keep family and friends close.
  19. Adjust short-term pricing tactics
    • Customers will be shopping around for the best deals.
    • Rather than dropping prices permanently, offer more sales and bulk-discounts
  20. Re-visit and reemphasize your core values
    • Many companies are tempted to lose sight of their values. This can lead to turnover, loss of clients, etc…
    • Make sure to spend time reassuring your staff that you value them and each department within your organization
    • Make sure that your managers do the same




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