I wrote this business strategy article in 2010, updated April 2014.
As an online business owner I was hit by the global recession, fortunately I was in an online niche business (search engine optimization services: SEO services) where I’d been turning potential business clients away for years.
I didn’t run an online business just to make money, I want to enjoy what I do so was very picky with which businesses I took on as SEO clients and I’m very good at what I do, so there’s always been more potential SEO clients than I could cope with.
Good Business Plans Change
Since writing this I’ve stopped offering SEO services altogether, interesting how business plans can change over 4 years and concentrate my time on making money from my websites rather than making other businesses money from their websites.
Still doing the same sorts of stuff (search engine optimization), but now only for my own sites so no time wasted explaining SEO techniques to SEO clients, much more efficient process for making money.
When I first wrote this article wasn’t thinking about changing my SEO business. I’d lost important SEO clients because of the global credit crunch and recession, for example I had a very successful Italian hotel and vacation business that was ranked top 5 for many relevant SERPs as an SEO client and they had to stop paying for SEO services completely during the credit crunch, people stopped going on holiday!
They were such good clients (been with me years) I continued to help them for free after they stopped paying: didn’t want their site to loose rankings during the summer months, they were still doing well in the SERPs in 2010 thankfully. Looks like they aren’t doing as well in 2014, used to be number one for the Italy Hotels SERP, still in the top 10, but no longer at the top :-(
Business Diversification Strategy
Since I lost some good SEO clients after the financial crisis of 2008 to maintain income I replaced them with new SEO clients (in a couple of cases not as picky as I’d normally be).
It’s been a hard time for many businesses and I personally don’t like the idea of relying on others for paying the mortgage (paid the mortgage off in full in 2011/12) and feeding my family (still have to feed people :-)), so I was looking into diversifying my business in the future to protect my earnings long term.
If there’s something I’ve learnt during the recession, governments and financial institutions are run by bloody idiots and we can not rely on them to do the right thing: we all need a business plan B to fall back on.
Overall I’m doing better money wise than before the credit crunch and recession, (over compensated a little) but many businesses will be on the verge of failure and bankruptcy and diversifying could be the answer. I’m still doing really well in 2014 despite taking quite a bit of time off working due to health problems.
Failed Business Model
Look at Woolworth’s in the UK, they were one of the first major businesses to fail and it wasn’t just because of the credit crunch.
Woolworth’s had been struggling for years, their business model no longer worked, they were failing in the growth years due to the wrong business strategy!
For Woolworth’s to have survived this financial crisis, they’d have had to realise their business model was flawed and no longer worked and change their approach BEFORE the credit crunch hit.
If you struggle in the good times, you are screwed in the bad!
New Successful Businesses
From the ashes of Woolworth’s we have some new successful businesses, they have taken what was good about the old Woolworth’s and improved on what worked.
If you own a struggling business, take a step back and find parts of it that work or new related ventures that might work better than your current business model and move forward with those new business ideas.
Don’t get stuck with an old idea just because it used to work, things change and businesses have to adapt or fail. For example Kodak would have failed had they insisted on ONLY following the instant Polaroid camera business model. Polaroid cameras were awesome when they were first developed, but technology (digital cameras) have made Kodak’s original business plan obsolete.
Successful Businesses Adapt or Die
A bloke with a bucket and ladder is a window cleaner, but he could also clean cars with the bucket and clear out leaves from guttering on his ladder.
A delivery driver who normally delivers furniture could also do small house removals.
If your online website ecommerce store isn’t taking order currently, try selling advertising from your site until the economy picks up. Better to make a small amount of money from your online business than nothing at all.
Diversify your business and survive until things pick up and you never know you might find a better way to move your business forward in the future that is more idiot proof: the idiots being those in power and in control of our financial institutions.