Having a solid strategy is always a critical component of any small business’ success, regardless of the economy it is operating in. Applying a successful strategy for your business to stave off the impacts of inflation and rising interest rates can be daunting, however, making it even more important that your plan is solid and tailored to your business’ specific needs.
Here are a few tips to develop and implement your strategy to manage the current economic environment.
Find a Balance with Your Balances
Many small businesses have loans or lines of credit, while they also have cash reserves. Depending on your rate being paid on a loan or line of credit versus your savings rate, it may be more profitable in the long run to either save more while rates on savings products like money markets and CDs are rising, or to pay extra on your loan if you are locked into a low enough interest rate.
That isn’t to say you should go with an “all or nothing” approach. Speak with your banker or accountant to strike a balance for managing your assets and your payables.
Lean Into Your Assets
Some of the most successful small businesses are those that adjust as needed to take advantage of market conditions. We saw this happen many times during the pandemic, as small business owners and operators used their entrepreneurial instincts to change their operations, product and service offerings, and structure to not only stay afloat, but to grow.
Look at your small business’ potential for growth. Have extra space in your location? Consider renting it to another small business owner to not only generate revenue but split other costs like utilities.
Warehousing is another great revenue and growth generator. Many retail customers embraced the idea of curbside pickup and delivery in recent years, allowing them to shop local and save on shipping costs or have same day pickup. Offering these services is a great differentiator from the “big box” stores or online retailers but can also require a higher level of inventory. Using extra space to rent out generates direct revenue, while having the space to enable you to buy in higher bulk quantities from your suppliers can sometimes drive down costs.
Speaking of customers, they are the most important asset your small business has so reward them! Bolster or create loyalty programs to keep them coming back regularly. Whether it’s a free coffee or slice each week, or monthly BOGO offers exclusive to repeat customers, giving your loyal customers freebies pays off in the long run.
Don’t Shy Away from Re-Investing
When interest rates rise, it is natural to be weary about adding debt. However, re-investing in your business for long-term growth shouldn’t be ignored. Now is the time to lean on your banker, accountant and tax advisor to consider your options, which include:
Real Estate: If you don’t already own your small business’ “home,” this is a great investment. Owning real estate for your business can be a great ROI driver not only because of the equity your business builds, but also the revenue it can generate. If you occupy 51% of the space, you can rent out the remaining areas.
Equipment: A fall 2022 WSFS Bank Small Business Trends study found that 45% of small businesses are planning to purchase equipment in the next year, which is another great investment that also has powerful tax advantages.
Whichever direction you choose to manage and maximize your small business’ assets, consult with your team first to develop a winning strategy for the short- and long-term.
Anthony Ryan is Senior Vice President, Director of Retail Lending Strategy and Operations for WSFS Bank. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Director of Small Business Lending. Ryan joined WSFS in 2011, bringing with him more than 30 years of Retail and Small Business Banking experience.