Back to the Basics: Four Smart Tips to Survive a Slowing Economy, From Castle Wealth Advisors

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In a slowing economy, small business owners should be keeping their gross margins as high as possible, watching their expenses, liquidating old inventory, and hunting for lower interest rates for their business loans. These steps will help the strengthen their business during economically turbulent times.

Analyst say the economy is getting lethargic in 2008 -- some are even whispering the "R" word -- recession, and this has business owners worried. "But there are important things they can be working on," said Gary Pittsford, CFP, CEO and President of Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC. An Indianapolis-based fee-only financial advisor, he recommends business owners do four things to help protect their companies this year:

1. During an economic downturn, he recommends business owners keep their gross margins as high as possible. "Maintaining usable cash flow in important in good years," he said, "but even more so in bad years."

2. He says business owners should watch their expenses, compared to normal national averages. This includes payroll, rent, advertising, and accounts receivables. Collecting the accounts receivables in a bad year is very important; you want to collect cash quickly. If customers file bankruptcy, that's bad too, so get as much collateral from your customers as possible. And the harsh reality of downsizing is another issue small business owners might consider too. If General Motors can layoff 10,000 employees in a bad year, it may be necessary for you to let go of two or three of your workers as well.

3. Liquidating old inventory is the third most important point you might do to weather a slowing economy. Slashing prices on slow moving and old merchandise gets customers in the door and that old product off your shelves, which will generate the important cash flow you may need this year.

4. Finally, go hunting for lower interest rates for loans you may have outstanding. Dropping rates have been the trend for the past 12 months, so now is the time to take advantage of lower rates and the savings refinancing brings.

If recession hits in 2008, it should be a short one, but you want to come out of this year with strong profits, higher gross margins and lower expenses than you had last year. While sales may be sluggish this year, budgeting and cutting costs could neutralize the effects of a recession on your business. Getting back to the basics in a slow year will same you money and strengthen you business.

Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC is an Indianapolis-based, fee-only family of financial and investment companies. It specializes in succession, estate and tax planning, as well as comprehensive financial planning, assets management, retirement planning and business valuations. With over three decades of experience, the senior financial advisors at Castle Wealth Advisors are certified financial planners.

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