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Navigating Inflation: 11 Strategies for Small Business Sustainability

Posted by Arya Chatterjee

May 9, 2024

Outsmart the economy with our small business guide and watch your startup thrive!

Inflation is like that unwanted guest at your party — you haven’t invited them, but they are ready to shake the scene up. For instance, it can lead to a significant increase in the cost of raw materials, making it more expensive to produce your goods. This unwelcome guest can also cause your customers to cut back on their spending, leading to a decrease in your revenue.

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Statista forecasts the global inflation rate will fall to 5.79% in 2024, a decline from 6.88% in 2023. While this may seem like a positive trend, it’s important to note that even a slight increase in inflation can have a significant impact on small businesses. It can lead to higher costs for goods and services, which can eat into your profit margins. However, don’t despair—navigating inflation is a challenge you must learn to conquer, as it’s inevitable and unpredictable. 

Small businesses, with their inherent creativity and resilience, have the power to keep this unwelcome guest at bay. With careful planning, clever strategies, and unwavering determination, you can navigate the challenges of inflation and emerge stronger. Let’s dive in. 

11 strategies for small business sustainability

1. Back to basics approach


When times get tough, it’s crucial to adopt a back-to-basics approach. If you haven’t updated your small business budgeting strategy in a while, now might be a good time. This step will not only help you understand your financial situation better but also make you feel more secure and in control. 

Review your expenses and identify areas where you can tighten the financial leash. While at it, look for hidden costs, which, like unwanted termites, may eat away at your profits.

2. Crunching the finances


Navigating inflation may have you considering ways to finance a business without being thrown off course. While lines of credit and traditional loans are great options, you might also want to consider alternative lenders. These are financial institutions that provide loans to small businesses, but they operate outside of the traditional banking system. Examples of alternative lenders include online lenders, peer-to-peer lending platforms, and crowdfunding sites. They can offer creative small business financial solutions, such as revenue-based financing, to help you tackle a difficult situation. And remember, shop around for the best rates, like when you buy a new car or a home.

3. Keep your ducks in a row


No one enjoys thinking about taxes but wants the taxman to visit them. So, staying on top of them is crucial to avoid penalties and interest. This means keeping your financial records organized, filing your taxes on time, and paying the correct amount of tax. Ensure you’re aware of any changes in tax laws and how they affect your business. Employ an accountant or financial services firm for small companies specializing in startup taxes for small businesses. Initially, it is a significant expense. Still, it can save you a lot of money in the long run and spare you the headache of decoding tax jargon.

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4. Price with purpose


You’ve got options for setting prices, so be bold and raise them strategically. Review your pricing regularly and use data as your compass. A slight increase in your prices might be the ingredient to keeping you afloat, but make sure your customers still see the value you’re providing them. This small business financial solution helps you keep your bottom line without scaring loyal customers.

5. Optimize your inventory


Remember the warehouse you have on the other side of town? It may be time to make that trip. Inflation means those dusty shelves could be sitting on gold or outdated stock. Ensure your inventory is lean and mean — sell off old stock to keep the cash flowing. This also prevents overstocking when demand fluctuates.

6. Don’t be afraid to negotiate


Don’t shy away from friendly negotiations with your suppliers. This means discussing your needs and concerns with them and trying to find a solution that works for both parties. You must focus on saving costs. Of course, they might also feel the inflation pinch, so approach them with a win-win mindset. For example, you might want to negotiate for bulk orders, longer payment terms, credit, or even alternative payment options like bartering, however temporary. A loyal and happy supplier will always make for a happy business.

7. Keep the customers coming back for more


Inflation might squeeze your profit margins at the neck, but don’t let them choke your customer relationships. Keep your customers by offering outstanding service and loyalty rewards and points. Retaining existing customers is more cost-effective than constantly chasing a fresh lot. Happy customers are your biggest marketing tool as they spread the word, and word of mouth is your best friend during challenging times.

8. Diversify your revenue streams


Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your revenue portfolio to spread risk and find some stability. Consider expanding your product or service offerings, targeting a different customer base, or even exploring partnerships with other brands and small businesses for fresh opportunities.

9. Invest in your team


A motivated and loyal team will stay by your side during trying times. If you captain right, your crew will follow. Invest in your employees with training and benefits, or offer flexible work arrangements to provide work-life balance. They’ll reward you with loyalty, creativity, and productivity, which is immeasurable. Plus, they’ll turn into your inflation-fighting Avengers, helping you adapt and thrive.

10. Keep an eye on the big picture


In times of inflation, it’s easy to get bogged down by the daily stress and endless hustle. But remember to keep an eye on the big picture. Keep building on your knowledge of market trends, industry shifts, and global events that could impact your small business. This broader perspective keeps you on your toes, ready to predict changes and act accordingly.

11. Plan for the unexpected


Risk management is last but most essential for SMEs. Have a plan for those ‘oh no’ moments, whether it’s a sales dip or an unpredicted cost hike. A rainy day fund or a line of credit can be your safety net in tough times. Remember to review your insurance coverage as well regularly.

The road ahead 


Navigating the troubles of inflation isn’t for the faint-hearted. Still, you can show this unwanted guest the door with the right strategies and a healthy dose of determination. By keeping your prices purposeful, managing risks like a pro, and building resilient relationships with your team, customers, and suppliers, you’ll be primed to ride out whatever inflation throws at you. 

As a small business owner, you must view this opportunity as a challenge that keeps you on your toes and forces you to innovate. By staying ahead of the curve and keeping an eye on numbers, you could emerge as the subsequent small business champion. So, go forth and show inflation who’s boss! This call to innovation should inspire and motivate you to take charge. 

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Want more? Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups get off the ground with our back-office solutions for accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, HR, payroll, insurance, and recruiting — and we can help yours, too. Talk to an expert today.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. Escalon and its affiliates are not providing tax, legal, or accounting advice in this article. If you would like to engage with Escalon, please get in touch with us here.

Author

Arya Chatterjee
Arya Chatterjee

Arya Chatterjee is a freelance writer and consultant from Mumbai. With a background in journalism and over five years of creative writing experience working with legacy media like Architectural Digest and Femina India and brands like The Label Life, ThinkRight.me and Macy's, she crafts unique and compelling stories that engage the readers. She enjoys writing about health, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle and exploring the symbiotic relationship between thriving businesses and happy employees through her writing. She is always looking to explore new avenues to expand her creative energy.

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