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Fishing in troubled waters: How entrepreneurs can still win in this looming financial crisis!

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Financial markets are in turmoil again.

We’re being told not to panic.

But to wear blinkers and pretend everything is normal would be dumb. It would be dumber still for entrepreneurs not to keep their eyes open to emerging new opportunities, some of them a direct consequence of the downturn.

Remember, some of today’s best companies – think Google, for one – were built during a recession. So, for those who will not be swayed by the doom-sayers, here are seven steps to turn adversity into, perhaps, an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

1. Look for your next startup!

As Virgin chief Richard Branson famously said, “Fortunes are made out of recessions.” The downturn brings a new dynamic to the market. Consumers and businesses seek to cut costs and make money. This creates new opportunities that savvy entrepreneurs can exploit.

2. Find the Scrooge in you.

Now is not the time to throw money around. Count every penny and make sure you get the full bang for your buck. Don’t invest in capital-intensive projects or pump truckloads of cash into a new business. Re-evaluate projects that require big-ticket spending. Finally, find ways to scale down and reduce costs without killing off projects altogether.

3. Make marketing dollars work harder.

Think low-cost, low-risk marketing channels like PR, social marketing and search marketing. Downturns are great for discounted advertising that you couldn’t afford at other times. Also, push for ‘pay for performance’ contracts with suppliers.

4. Fall in love with cash.

Consider early payment discounts or rewards to make sure you get paid as quickly as possible. In a downturn, no credit might be good credit. If it’s been a while since you’ve run credit checks on your important customers, now is the time to do that and make sure nothing’s changed.

5. Go penny pinching.

Question all expenditure personally and set aside a few hours to shop around for better deals on everything – from your business phone and Internet, to utilities and more.

6. Quick, lock away your cash.

Experts are tipping a rate cut of up to 50 basis points in September, and some term deposit rates are already falling. So, if you’ve got spare cash sitting around, act fast before rates fall.

7. Get ready for the happy days.

Like every downturn, this one will end too. But when it does, have a ready plan and make sure you are first out of the starting blocks. Make the most of a head start, leaving others behind in the dust.

Kirsty Lamont is a director at Mozo.com.au, a free online comparison and reviews service for business banking, personal banking and insurance. She can be reached via email to [email protected]

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