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Small Business Check-up Tips

Published Friday Nov 14, 2008

Don't panic. Be calm and rational as you look at your business. Don't let stress keep you from focusing on the fundamentals. Focus on what you can control about your business. Efficient and resourceful entrepreneurs cut costs, plan capital expenditures and focus on shoring up sales. They look for new ways of doing business. Recognize that your competitors may be struggling too. Be sure your business survives.

Consult your mentors. Keep in touch with your CPA and be aware of tax breaks for small businesses. Get feedback from informal advisors you trust. Ask SCORE for advice and meet to review the health of your business. Plan for a profitable year in 2009, even with potentially little or no growth.

Look for local funding. Contact your city, county or state governments when you seek capital. Sometimes there are programs with grants or loans in specific industries. Many economic development offices have programs for qualified small firms. Community banks also may be a source of a line of credit. A solid business plan can help you make your case.

Find ways to cut costs, and hold the line on price increases. Check your cash flow on a regular basis. Be sure you have good collection policies and quickly collect money that is owed to your business. Cut the costs of collection agencies by putting good systems in place up front. Keep good records of your inventory, and be careful not to overstock your shelves.

Continue your marketing. In fact, this is the time you need marketing the most. It reassures your customers that you are still there to serve them, and it can help you reach new markets to sustain your business. Consider publishing email newsletters and sales alerts. Let people sign up for them on your Web site.

"Now is the perfect time to meet with SCORE mentors for a business review and planning session," says SCORE CEO Ken Yancey. "SCORE offices across the country are offering the opportunity to schedule a business check-up' anytime. SCORE can help you look at where your business is today, discuss your ideas, and talk about how you can succeed in 2009."

For more information, visit www.score.org and click on "Find SCORE Now" to locate the nearest SCORE office.

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