Staying profitable can be a challenge for any business, even in the best of times. In a tough economy like this, it’s even harder. But there are several ways to keep profits flowing in, whatever the economy is doing. Here are seven creative ways you can build and maintain positive cash flow:
1. Reconnect with past customers or clients. Every company loses a certain number of customers over time, for no particular reason. Some people will just drift away or forget about you. If you contact them (either in person, or by phone, mail or email) and tell them that you’ve missed them, then offer them a special deal to reactivate the relationship, many of them will take you up on it.
2. Dedicated referral systems. Most business owners cross their fingers and hope their customers will recommend them to friends and family. Smart business owners make it easy for them to do so by giving them a self-serving reason to, such as discounts, bonuses and referral fees.
3. Make irresistible offers. Contact everyone who does business with you and tell them that, in honor of a special occasion, you’re making them a limited-time special offer. If you don’t have such an occasion, make something up. Just be sure to give a plausible reason for the offer.
4. Raise your prices. This sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. You can test a different price point on a small segment of your customer base to see how it goes over. If you get a positive response, you can safely expand it to the rest of your list.
5. Get other businesses to endorse your products or services. Find businesses related to, but not in direct competition with yours. Convince them to endorse you to their client list in exchange for either a percentage of profits or a flat fee. They should be agreeable to this because you’re opening up a new profit center for them, at no cost and with very little effort. Who wouldn’t like the sound of that?
6. Exploit your underutilized assets. Do you have equipment, office or warehouse space, or employee man hours that you’re not using to their full capacity? If so, there are probably a lot of companies out there that would be happy to pay you to rent them from you.
7. Barter. Bartering your products or services can benefit you in two ways: One, you can barter for essential services, thus cutting your overhead; and two, you may be able to barter for products that you can then turn around and sell. Just remember, though, that the IRS regards barter arrangements as taxable income.