Every where you turn, people are talking about the state of the economy: rising gas prices, higher food costs, and a struggling housing market.

As a business owner, this can be paralyzing when the only thing that is being discussed is lack. However, here is the bright side of a slower economy, it can be motivation to create a better service, offer a more competitive product, make your business processes more efficient, and be more creative with your marketing.

Historically, small business has been the fuel that has propelled the U.S. out of recessions.

Why is that? You would think that larger corporations with vast resources would be more insulated against downturns.

The best small businesses thrive in a poor economy out of necessity and they are flexible enough to react to changing times.

When sales start dropping and customers aren’t coming in the door, they can change offerings, go out and solicit business, brainstorm ideas and implement them to get things moving.

Small businesses don’t have the time and can’t afford to waste money on strategies that don’t work. They don’t spend countless man hours on committees deciding on the best course of action.

They get out and do.

Small Businesses Keep Trucking

You would think with all of the dire predictions out there that people would just sit, hold tight, and not make any big changes. That may be true in some areas; however, it is not true of small business start-ups.

I researched recent DBA filings for Harris County this week and did you know that there is an average of almost 800 new filings a day? Granted we are in one of the largest cities in the nation; however, Harris is only one of the counties in the Houston metro area.

That seems like an extraordinary number of start-ups, but I decided to do a little research over previous years to see how the current numbers compare. If you look at a large enough selection of data, you can see a pattern.

Below is a graph of the filings for the month of June for the past 10 years. The number listed is the average number of filings per day.

Harris County Business Filings

With an average of 752 new DBA filings for June 2008, it is down from the high in 2003 of 956 filings. However, it is pretty much at the same level as 1999 to 2001.

Using the filings as an indicator of business confidence it may not be the economic climate that new businesses dream of, but it is not the end of the world as we know it as some talking heads make it sound. It may not be the greatest, but it’s nothing we haven’t been through before.

Everything goes in a cycle. We are just in part of the cycle now that makes us appreciate the good times even more.

Tips for Galvanizing Your Business

If you are a small business owner and are feeling stress, here is something to keep in mind. The same money that was out there last year is still out there today, the flow may just be going in a different direction.

Rather than thinking about “lack,” put your focus on tapping into that redirected flow.

Capitalize on the Small Business Advantage

The biggest advantage a small business has over a large corporation is the fact that it is a small business. As a small business owner, you have the ability to connect on a personal level with your customers . . . so take advantage of that!

When you assess your marketing campaign for 2009, put those dollars in vehicles that will give you as many personal contacts with as many customers as possible.

In an interview for The U.S. News and World Report, Preparing Your Small Business for a Recession,” Jim Blasingame advises to focus on relationships with your customers.

Spend more time talking to your customers and less time listening to the talking heads on television. Don’t be afraid of the future—take charge of it by asking your customers what’s going on. This economy is not going to shut down. If we’re in a recession, it doesn’t matter. People are still going to buy stuff. It’s our job to give our customers the maximum opportunities to pay from us. That might mean we’ve got to work a little bit harder. We’ve got to manage our businesses a little more efficiently.

Synergize With Other Small Businesses

Still not ready to go out and stoke the fires of your business?  Network with other small businesses that subscribe to the same business philosophy that you do for encouragement.  Get together once every week or two to bounce each other and share strategies.

The important thing is to set your goals, devise a plan, set the strategies and develop a support system.  In the next post we will cover 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Marketing Dollar, but in the meantime, here are some other articles with tips for developing a business strategy.