Many economists are predicting that with GM filing for bankruptcy on June 01, 2009 that the economy has hit bottom and will start to improve. With this being the longest recession since the Great Depression and many “green shoots” in the economy starting to appear, it’s now time to prepare for future growth and not sit back and wait for it to happen. Besides, if you don’t do these things now when will you have time?

So here are eleven tips to be ready for growth:

1. Let’s start with you
If you’re running a business that sells products you are used to counting your inventory. If you are a service business and don’t have inventory you understand the concept. So this idea is simple, let’s start with you. What do you need to be ready for the growth of your business – a vacation to freshen up your energy levels, some training to learn that piece of software you always wanted to know how to use, an accounting, sales and marketing or Social Network Media course.

2. Do some audits of the business
Let’s make sure we are “business ready” so when things get busy we don’t waste opportunities. Items to check in this category include your lease; when does it expire and is it worth re-negotiating with the landlord now or hiring a professional to help you do this? Update Training Manuals and Employee Manuals. If you don’t have either of them, now’s the time to do it or hire someone to do it for you. Answering the same question from each of your employees is not only repetitive but a waste of time. Making sure your manuals are also legally compliant is a good business investment. This audit can also include the corporate records of the business.

3. Review your business insurance
This idea is an extension of the above. If you’re doing a business audit, talk to your insurance agent to see what changes you need to make. You’re probably concerned some policies have gone up but it’s possible some have gone down or you can lessen coverage on some items to better handle your premiums.

4. Talk to your employees and get them motivated
The recession has been tough on everybody. Being the owner of the business we tend to think it’s been tougher on us. However, your employees have been concerned about losing their job, cuts to the numbers of hours they work, reduction in overtime or bonus’ plus their own standard of living. It’s time to re-engage them; check where they are at and what they see. Perhaps it’s time to hand them more responsibility so they can grow as the business grows but this may require training. Let’s get that training going and building a team spirit.

5. Upgrade your office equipment
If you’re working off outdated equipment and its holding back your business, now’s the time to upgrade. If the new equipment is sophisticated there will be a learning curve involved. Now’s the time to get on with it. And if you do it now, you will be ahead of your competition.

6. Upgrade your computer network
The technology experts suggest changing computers and software every 3 years. If this is critical infrastructure for your business operations now’s the time to do it. After all, we are in the 21st century and technology is dynamic so let’s use it to its fullest extent.

7. Upgrade your accounting system
Your accounting system is the financial life blood of your business. If you are working off old software that you’ve been threatening to upgrade, now is the ideal time. Changing systems requires proper research and validation, building a strategy to move to the new version and the associated training. Now is the perfect time to look at this option.

8. Talk with your customers
Here’s a novel idea – talk to your customers. I mean really talk to them. Find out how they are doing, how they are feeling and their view of the world. Perhaps they are thinking of spending a little more as they see things are turning around. And as they are one of your customers and already buy from you, they may be willing to buy something else you sell but didn’t realize you carried it because they were too busy to ask.

9. Update your website
For a lot of businesses, the website is the gateway customers use to decide if they want to do business with you. If your website has broken links or hasn’t been upgraded in a long time, now’s the time to have a professional refresh all your products and services and train you on any new technologies they recommend.

10. Contribute locally in your community
There are plenty of opportunities to help in your community. In fact, local communities are desperate for help. Find something that’s important to you and get involved as your help is needed and will help put your issues into perspective.

11. Create or make a communications plan
What do your employees say when they answer the phone, write in emails or when they meet customers face to face? What do your sales brochures say that you give to your clients? How about your website, business cards or advertisements? Do your current communications sound tired, bored or uninterested? Now is an ideal time to revisit what you communicate and how you communicate the products and/or services in your business.

Is selling your business in the back of your mind? Now’s the perfect time to work through that option. Selling a business requires thought and planning. Building an exit strategy includes positioning your business correctly, not only for potential buyers but also how this impacts you personally with tax and personal financial planning issues. With unemployment so high, buyers will be looking for options other than returning to Corporate America.

In summary, there are many things we can spend time on improving our business. These should all be in your business plan. If you haven’t got a business plan, now’s the time to create one. If you want a free template, visit my website and download option 8.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew is a 5-time business owner and his expertise includes helping owners sell and/or buyers purchase a business, new entrepreneurs buy a franchise, certified machinery and equipment appraisals and business valuations. His credentials include the CBI designation from the IBBA and the CBB from the CABB. Andrew is also a published author on four books on buying or selling a business.