Recession Busting Ideas For Your Business

Many people are justifiably concerned about the state of the world's economies. I decided to post some ideas on how to save on necessary expenditures within your business (or personal lives) that I have utilized (and continue to do so).

I have always operated my small business with the mindset of "is this expenditure justified"?

I do not believe that "one size fits all" and that conducting your business or personal life in an exact manner as someone else does theirs will result in the same of similar conclusions. However, by trying to maintain a frugal approach to doing business, we have never gone into debt for the business and this has helped the business through various low periods, including the one we are currently experiencing.

Here is a short list of things I routinely do (or have done) in my business that have helped conserve revenue include:

1. Shopping for office supplies at dollar stores.

2. Reviewing the sales flyers from office supply stores for sales on items that may not be available at dollar stores - I found an incredible deal on an new laser printer last winter after Christmas that was less expensive than buying a new toner cartridge for the old printer.

3. Consolidating trips - try to schedule as many of your local trips to the bank, office supply store (dollar store) or other business related travels into one or two days a week.

4. Get rid of your dedicated fax line (if you can) - I saved about $4-500 a year by getting rid of the dedicated land line for receiving fax messages - I found a service that provides a "dedicated" 10-digit fax phone number for our business (without extensions) that costs only $34 the first year and $24 each "year" thereafter.

When someone sends a fax to our number, it is translated into a PDF document and emailed directly to our email inbox. I can then open it, read it and print it out (if necessary) - most of the time it does not require printing so it is simply stored on the PC hard drive.

This also has saved us on paper costs since we used to receive daily spam fax messages which were a total waste of paper (and time).

5. Using credit cards that provide a rebate on all purchases.

6. Taking advantage of online shopping for business services or products - I saved $70 this past Winter when shopping for tax prep software - I found an Amazon vendor who had it for half the price, then Amazon had a special deal on opening a credit card with them which gave us $30 against our first purchase and we ended up getting the $75 software for $5 and it included free shipping.

7. This one is something we actually did about 5 years ago - our business was based primarily on direct mail from 1988 through 1998 - we used to spend thousands of dollars a year on paper, printing, envelopes and postage. As our Internet marketing expanded we also saw a steady decrease in the ROI from direct mail.

Approximately 5 years ago, we ceased using any direct mail as email and our web site had tripled our revenue from what direct mail had ever achieved. Electronic marketing is saving a lot of trees. ** One suggestion I would have for a business that is still utilizing direct mail is if they do not mail enough to warrant a bulk mail permit, I would be buying the "forever" stamps to inventory for future mailings and especially prior to the next increase that is sure to come.

8. Diversification - we have always been flexible and constantly searching for products and services that complement what we already offer. Some services that once produced thousands in income a month now produce hundreds, some services that produced thousands are no longer offered, this is simply the ebb and flo of the marketplace. But because we have been constantly researched and discovered new service or product vendors, we have been able to maintain our level of sales and so far this year our revenue is slightly ahead of last.

Remember, Benjamin Franklin's saying, a Penny saved is a Penny earned and whether it is pennies or dollars, this proverb still holds true today in business or personal finance.

Hope this list of suggestions, based on my own experience, will help others weather the current economic storm.

Your comments and or ideas are welcomed.

Ron Coble


The churning flood of economic developments and the desperate measures of governments to lay financial sandbags to control the torrent present not one, but three calamities for media managers. Those that escape one may well be swept away by another.

Most media can survive the collapse of credit markets because media firms have high cash flows are typically require less short term credit than manufacturing and retail firms. Because most can acquire their most important resources without accessing credit lines or issuing commercial paper, banks struggling to keep their heads above water are not a major short-term concern. However, those media firms with large debts due in the short-term that were hoping to refinance face significant hurdles. Some will be rapidly shedding media properties in order to stay afloat.

The more immediate problem for some publicly owned firms is the financial damage caused by the dramatic drop in share prices following the credit market collapse. Because a number of companies use debt financing linked to the value of their shares, the drop in prices makes their debt more risky and thus triggers automatic increases in interest rates and debt payments. This puts even more financial pressure on the firms and is sweeping them along with the flood.

Media firms that escaped the rising financial damage of the first two problems are nonetheless being sucked into the swirling waters of a recession. Because manufacturers are cutting production and laying off workers and because credit is tightening and making it harder for consumers to buy, advertising expenditures are eroding rapidly. Further, consumer spending and confidence are directly related to sales of media products so one can expect declines in sales of media hardware, recordings, books, and other products as well as consumers concentrate their expenditures on paying mortgages and other debt.

At the moment there is no means to effectively project how deep the recession will be, but whatever the depth it will be difficult for media. In the case of advertising, a 1 percent decline in GDP produces about a 3 to 5 percent decline in advertising. So a 3 percent decline could produce a 15 percent decline in income for many media firms. Print media tend to be most affected by recessions and their declines tend to be 3 to 4 times deeper than television because of differences in the types of advertising they carry.

Media companies that are financially strong will weather the financial storm, but those whose managers leveraged their companies to make acquisitions, those whose owners recently purchased the firms primarily using debt financing, and those that have been poorly managed will be struggling to survive. The current financial storm is a classic example for why conservative financial management of a media firm debt is crucial.