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Wyoming Business Tips for April 26-May 2

April 21, 2009

 A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Jeremy Wilch, business counselor

"Market conditions are tough right now, but I'm confident things will turn around. Are there strategies I may implement during this slow time to help better position my business for the future?" Steve, Laramie

As a former banker, I find a majority of my friends are bankers, portfolio managers or business service providers. Perhaps that is because of the propensity to see these same individuals at the golf courses and other "social networking" venues I still frequent. My current responsibilities as a business counselor and legal specialist with WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz make for a synergistic partnership with these colleagues.

On the occasions I have to visit with these "finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-economy" friends of mine, I always ask, "What should I be telling my business clients to do in this economy"? The resounding response is -- grow.

But that can mean different things to different people. Perhaps my commercial lending compadres are suggesting the time is ripe for a huge expansion loan, but I doubt it. Maybe my investment friends are suggesting I tell you to go diversify your portfolio, but they always say that, so I doubt these tough economic times warrant any special treatment. No, I think what "those in the know" are suggesting is this is a good time to invest in your business.

Investing in your business can mean many things. To me that means working on your infrastructure. We all know infrastructure is just a big word for "the nuts and bolts" of your company; new record keeping software, a piece of equipment that needs refurbished/replaced, certification you have put off, even resurfacing the parking lot or a new coat of paint on the office walls. These are all infrastructure.

When business is good you are too busy to worry about those small details. How many times during peak sales did you say to yourself, "I need to take care of {insert problem area here}."

But you never did because you were too busy making money to find time to spend it. Now is the time to reinvest it in the company. With the economic slowdown, slow sales and fear of just covering the bills comes a temptation to withdraw and save every penny.

Problem with that is, we know things will rebound. Already $1.5 trillion has been earmarked for something called "economic stimulus" nationwide. Whatever that really means, it suggests there will be a lot of money to be spent. When the good times come back, will your business be poised to capitalize? Or will you be woefully unprepared?

One final thought: If you think your business is as prepared for the rebound as it can possibly be and you have employees, consider investing in your greatest asset -- your staff. Employee training is a fairly low-cost, high-return and easy investment in the people who make your business run.

If you are unsure what training your people need, or how to find the training they need, contact a local WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz office for a no-cost consultation.

Whether in equipment, real estate, your business plan or people, an investment in your business today will lead to rewards when the inevitable bounce-back arrives.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

Posted on Tuesday, April 21, 2009

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