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Don't Be Another Victim of a Rough Economy. Use These 8 Steps to Build Your Action Plan. In times of economic uncertainty, businesses of all sizes can face significant challenges. By following these strategies, businesses can prepare for an economic slowdown and protect themselves from financial hardship.

By Jason Miller

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the economy continues to fluctuate, it's important for entrepreneurs to have a plan in place for any potential downturns. To remain competitive, you can take several steps, including reviewing your finances, cutting operating costs, diversifying your products and offerings and focusing on customer retention.

Utilizing automation technology and revamping your marketing approach are both essential to adapt to the ever-changing economic climate. Don't wait until it's too late to start preparing — take control of your financial future and create an action plan today. Having this action plan will allow you to build what I refer to as a "war chest" for your business. The "war chest" is critical since it will allow your company to survive for a minimum of six months during a rough time.

Related: 5 Ways to Protect Your Business From a Recession

1. Create an action plan

Planning for an economic slowdown is crucial for preparing your business, so it's time to break out that budgeting spreadsheet. Be aware of potential changes to revenue, expenses and cash flow so you are not caught off guard. By preparing a budget in advance, you can make adjustments to ensure your business stays afloat. Start planning for a rainy day now — don't wait until it's too late.

2. Review your finances

Getting a handle on your finances is the first step in preparing for an unpredictable economic climate. Do a deep dive into your assets, liabilities and outstanding debts or loans. You can then determine where you stand financially and how a downturn may affect you.

Keeping a close eye on your sales and costs and uncovering opportunities to reduce expenses is crucial to staying ahead of any potential economic shifts. Make informed decisions about your finances during difficult economic times by tracking your monthly income and expenses, such as salaries, rent and insurance. One of the best things you can do is a comprehensive review of your P&L monthly to ensure you are not being wasteful in your business.

3. Cut operating costs

Cutting operating costs is an obvious but effective way to prepare for a softening economy. Take a hard look at your budget and trim unnecessary expenses. It's important to consider all costs, including travel and office supplies. You may get better terms or lower prices by renegotiating existing vendor contracts.

Walmart, for example, switched to LED lighting in their stores. Walmart reduced its lighting energy consumption by 50% by replacing traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs. This resulted in an annual cost savings of approximately $200 million. Furthermore, LED bulbs have a longer lifespan than conventional bulbs, so Walmart also saved money on maintenance. Many people overlook this when reviewing operational expenses.

Related: How to Help a Business Thrive During an Economic Recession

4. Revamp your marketing approach

Don't let tough economic times take a toll on your brand's success. Instead, reassess your marketing strategies to stay ahead of the competition. Are you working within a tight budget? No problem! Optimize your spending by shifting your focus to marketing tactics to enhance customer loyalty and drive sales. Use technology to your advantage with social media platforms and digital marketing solutions to increase your brand's visibility without breaking the bank. Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest trends in marketing to tap into what's currently catching consumers' attention.

Want to make a lasting impact? Ditch the typical advertising route in favor of snappy, visually-engaging short videos on YouTube and Instagram. The sky's the limit when it comes to creatively adapting to the economic climate and taking your marketing game to the next level. They key is getting creative in your marketing messages to stand apart from everyone else. I always tell business owners I work with that use the excuse, "It's just too noisy." Then, make more noise.

5. Revolutionize your business with automation and AI technology

The future of business is here, and it's all about automation technology. Say goodbye to human error and welcome efficiency and cost-effectiveness with open arms. Companies are relying on AI more than ever before to help them reduce costs and optimize processes. With robotic process automation, predictive analytics and natural language processing tools like ChatGPT, businesses are experiencing revolutionary benefits.

ChatGPT is transforming customer service and support by utilizing cutting-edge language models. Automation can be the superhero businesses have in their corner. Be very mindful of how you use some of these technologies as they are new, so test the technology and split-test them before doing any full integrations into your ecosystem. Just because it's new and shiny doesn't mean it is everlasting!

6. Diversify your products and offerings

In an economic downturn, diversifying your product or service offerings is a powerful strategy for breaking into new markets. Expanding your range can entice budget-conscious buyers who might have overlooked your business previously. Using the right approach, you can both maintain and attract customers.

Related: How to Recession-Proof Your Business

7. Focus on customer retention

Hold onto your customers tightly. Your relationship with your existing customers is crucial, especially during turbulent times. Keep them coming back with exciting loyalty programs or tempting discounts. You can fix any problems quickly and identify areas for improvement if you listen carefully to their feedback. Remember, keeping a happy customer is easier than finding a new one in tough times.

8. Have a backup plan

To weather tough times, businesses must master the art of preparation. The unexpected can strike at any time, so it's vital to prepare backup plans to ensure your business runs smoothly. Keep emergency funds and insurance policies in tow in case of a crisis. Review finances, pivot marketing strategies and explore new product lines to keep your company on solid ground during an economic slump. Take control of potential roadblocks and steer your business toward success.

Being prepared for a softening economy can mean the difference between taking control of your financial future and becoming another victim. A solid action plan, regular reviews or focus on improvement will give you the edge over those who wait too long to take preventative measures. Prevention goes a long way, so get out there and stay ahead of the game!

Jason Miller

CEO of the Strategic Advisor Board

Jason Miller is a seasoned CEO with an overwhelming passion to help other business owners and CEOs succeed. He was nicknamed Jason “The Bull” Miller because he takes no BS and no excuses from the people he serves. He has mentored thousands of people over more than two decades.

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