Dennis S. Melton, SBA St. Louis District Director
Many business owners are currently experiencing anxiety. There is uncertainty about the “Fiscal Cliff” and its effects. The NHL lockout has checked the bottom line of many local establishments. Financial issues in other parts of the world affect the local economy. Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast and has economically affected the Midwest.
What can businesses do in this situation? Planning is essential. SBA frequently offers webinars on disaster planning. Disasters don’t have to be physical disasters—they can be created by economic conditions beyond the control of the owners. Counseling with SBA resource partners can also be of great assistance. These resource partners include SCORE, Small Business Technology & Development Centers (SBTDCs), the Women’s Business Center (WBC), and the Veterans Business Resource Center (VBRC). SBA loans can help in some circumstances. Owners can also browse the SBA website for training opportunities and videos on how other small business owners have dealt with challenges.
Businesses may want to broaden their customer base. Social media marketing has been shown to bring in customers. However, once you obtain new customers, your work has just begun as you now have to create a relationship. Customer service is often a key component to keeping new customers. Research shows that customers come back to businesses that make them feel welcome and appreciated. Ensure you are serving your clients well.
Finally, remember that these challenges will pass. There will be some resolution to the “Fiscal Cliff”, baseball season is right around the corner, and cleanup for Hurricane Sandy is proceeding. Small business owners are the backbone of our economy and each owner should stand tall with pride for his/her contribution to this economy. Thank you for all you do, and please have a wonderful Holiday Season!
P.S. In early December we were honored to have our District visited by SBA Administrator Karen Mills; please be sure to read the article about her visit and the important work she is addressing.