Recessionproofing a small business


January 27, 1991|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

You're the owner of one of the more than 15 million home-based businesses in this country, and the recession wolf is gobbling up companies much larger than yours. Surely your puny little company will be a mere appetizer for this beast, you think, as you toss and turn through still another sleepless night.

Relax. Breathe easy. Sleep! Barbara Brabec, author of the best-selling book "Homemade Money," said your home-based business stands an excellent chance of sailing through this recession. In this second part of our recent telephone interview, she donated these suggestions for steps you can take right now to help ensure it.

"Begin with a plan -- and put it in writing. Very few home-based business owners are used to putting their business plans in writing, but this is a crucial first step for surviving this recession.

"When you start actually writing your ideas down, they flow as if from the tip of your pen. You'll be amazed. You'll think of things you never would have thought of," said Ms. Brabec, who also publishes the widely acclaimed National Home Business Report four times per year from her home in Naperville, Ill.

"Concentrate on the benefits your business offers -- not the features. Be sure to ask yourself -- often! -- the question your customers will be asking: 'What's in it for me to do business with this company?'

"Remember that even when times are bad, people's creature comforts and personal and business needs have to be satisfied, and a lot of products manufactured and sold by home-based businesses provide these," added Ms. Brabec.

"If you're making products like crafts or gift items, concentrate on things that are utilitarian, not just decorative, during a recession. People buy necessities -- not luxuries -- when times are hard.

"Look right now for your niche in a recession market, too -- the pockets of people who have money to spend on your products or services. Look for ways to cut expenses to the bone, as well. Become unit-price conscious!" she said.

"It's important to know the cost of every envelope, every postcard, every pencil -- all the materials you use. Understanding exactly how much you're paying for the supplies you use can save you hundreds of dollars a year, if you'll just take the trouble to shop around.

"Finally, don't despair, and don't worry yourself to death, either. Remember that you have a huge advantage during this recession: No one can fire you or lay you off," Ms. Brabec concluded with a wry chuckle.

Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.

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