If there were ever a timely business book, “Save Your Small Business: 10 Crucial Strategies To Survive Hard Times or Close Down & Move On” by Ralph Warner and Bethany K. Laurence is certainly it. Promoted as a road map to small business survival, Warner and Laurence provide simple, no-nonsense, steps that can make a huge difference in running, saving, or if needed closing, your small business. Running a small business has always been hard, but currently it can be brutally agonizing, if not downright scary. This guide may just provide you with the information to make today’s bad economy, or bad economies in the future, opportunities so that in good times your business will be poised to thrive.
The book starts out saying it will be your small business companion, and recommends you create a business survival plan, prepare a current profit-and-loss statement and cash flow analysis, and establish an advisory board. It the delves into chapters that will provide the tools to help you decide whether it makes sense to continue, hibernate, close, or sell your business and offers some strategies you can implement to get your business back on track.
Chapter One: Can You Save Your Business? This chapter discusses topics such as planning for short and long term, selling your business, putting your business in hibernation, and saving your business. It also looks at some special considerations for retailers, services, construction, restaurants, wholesalers and importers, and franchises.
Chapter Two: Don’t Ignore Bad News. Why you can’t wait, cutting costs, changing direction, quitting and selling are addressed. There are also strategies on determining how much to cut expenses and acing slowly to reverse cutbacks.
Chapter Three: Control Your Cash Flow. This area can be one of the most important, especially for the small business. Topics include: Keeping paying your bills on time, how to create more cash, and what not to do, such as using merchant cash advances, maxing out credit cards, and borrowing against your house.
Chapter Four: Minimize Liability for Your Debts. Are you personally liable for business debts? Liability for jointly owned debt. What can creditors do if you don’t pay? Prioritizing debt payments, including payroll, taxes, utilities, and many more.
Chapter Five: Concentrate on What’s Really Profitable. Face it, the goal of a business is to make a profit. This chapter looks at getting a quick profits plan on paper, making money in a service business, and making money in retail or manufacturing. It is a short chapter, but if it gets you thinking about making a profit, it has done its job.
Chapter Six: Innovate on a Shoestring. Invention, Copying, Serendipity, and Making Innovation a Continuous Process are addressed in this chapter. This chapter may inspire you to brainstorm the next wonder gadget that every household must have. Depending on your business, this may be what you need.
Chapter Seven: Identify Your Customers. Before you can create an effective marketing plan, you need to know who your likely customers are. This chapter discusses aiming at the bull’s eye and filling in your target. Topics include current customers, need, price, access, and experience.
Chapter Eight: Don’t Waste Money on Ineffective Marketing. If we only knew which of our marketing efforts were producing the best results. This chapter helps you determine things about your marketing such as: Marketing the right products or services to the right people, not spending big dollars on advertising, asking long-term customers for support, encouraging customers to recommend your business, using paid listing effectively, marketing on your own website, and holding a “trying to stay in business” sale.
Chapter Nine: Handle Layoffs Fairly – And Keep Your Best People. Laying people off is often one of a business owners most dreaded tasks. This chapter provides guidance in this area by looking at: Making a wise layoff plan, the logistics of a layoff, and keeping the great people you hire. Some very good advice for this unfortunate part of business.
Chapter Ten: Don’t Work Too Much. What? If your business is floundering, you must work more, right? This chapter tackles the subjects of the importance of a sane schedule and how to work less and make more. Priorities and delegation are the keys the authors discuss.
Chapter Eleven: Work With Your Best Competitors. The four areas this chapter covers include: Treating competitors with respect, getting business from competitors, working for competitors, and working with competitors.
Chapter Twelve: How to Close Down Your Business. Most people don’t ever want this to happen, but the reality is that it does. This chapter offers some good strategies if you decide it is time to close the business and do something else. Topics include things like creating a closing team, looking at contractual obligations, dealing with landlords, collecting bills and selling off inventory, notifying and paying employees, liquidating assets, notifying creditors and customers, paying your debts, paying taxes, and dissolving your business entity. This is not a pleasant topic, but unfortunately an important one if you find yourself having to go this direction. The book provides guidance in the process.
Chapter Thirteen: Dealing With Debt: Bankruptcy and Its Alternatives. Introductory chapter on these topics with some good advice, but you will need more resources if you choose to go down the bankruptcy path, or better yet, seek counsel from a qualified professional.
Appendix A provides guidance on preparing a profit and loss forecast and a cash flow analysis. There are more complete references on these out there for sure, but this short bare bone basics on them will get you started and at least help you determine where you are at.
“Save Your Small Business” is a good guide for the struggling small business owner, and also provides information for the small business owner who doesn’t want to fall into hard times. Educating oneself regarding business is crucial for small business success. This is one more Nolo title that will help small business owners hopefully survive, but also liquidate and close with less pain if that is the course that must be taken.