Four Ways The Recession Can Actually Help Your Business

This post originally appeared on the OPEN Forum.

Yes, the recession has taken its toll on most small businesses — but not everything about the economic downturn is bad.

In fact, some smart companies are turning the tough times into an advantage — making changes that can help them not only to survive the recession, but to create a stronger business for when the economy improves, as well.

What’s more: “Time is running out,” says Ken Gaebler, who heads Gaebler Ventures, a Chicago-based small business consulting firm. “Businesses that haven’t made the most of the recession need to do so, before the opportunity is lost.”

How to do that?

Try these four steps >

Renegotiate supplier agreements

By evaluating your vendor contracts, you'll probably be able to find areas where you can cut costs or ask for better arrangements--for example, requesting a lower price or payment in 45 rather than 30 days, in exchange for locking in a longer-term agreement. Gaebler points to a small business that renegotiated an $8,000- a- month retainer with a public relations firm to $2,500--with only a small reduction in services offered.

Remember: Your renegotiation should also include your office space. With vacancies on the rise, many landlords are willing to review everything from monthly rent to the length of your agreement and the option to move into a bigger space at cheaper rates.

For best results, suggests Gaebler, you need a systematic approach, contacting all your vendors for potential concessions. In fact, you may assign an employee to the task, perhaps promising a bonus equivalent to 5% of the savings he or she creates.

Revamp your business processes

Learn to hire different types of employees

Help employees tap their creativity

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