A look at how the economy is affecting Oklahoma businesses
Read any newspaper or watch any network news program and it seems like the economic climate in this country is in disarray. However, it is not all gloom and doom. For many small business owners in Oklahoma, they see the current economy as an opportunity to thrive.
Shane Dawson, owner of technology consulting company, I.T. Solutions, began his business during an economic downturn six years ago. He was laid off from his employer who told him "we would love to keep you, but you can do this on a contract basis." Dawson was able to secure additional freelance work from a second company and thus I.T. Solutions was born. His idea for a slow economy? Outsource what you can. "We can save companies money and give them excellent service," said Dawson.
The idea of outsourcing during economic downtimes is also echoed by Carol Hartzog, of Carol Hartzog Communications, a media relations and marketing company. "Public and media relations consultants will only floursih in this market," said Hartzog. "As companies cutback in-house on these areas, they will need to resource this function outside and step up the effort due to the economic conditions."
However, if you business cannot utilize outsourcing as a competitive advantage, Keller Williams Realtor, Steve Reeser, offers this advice. "Closely watch your expenses and cut things that are unproductive," said Reeser. Getting back to the basics and fundamentals of the business can help any company experiencing pains due to the current market conditions.
Focusing on your strengths and targeting your key market segments is another hot topic for businesses during economic downturns. The best thing to do in hard times is focus more and focus better," said John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing. "By narrowing your focus, you can concentrate on your best customers, your key market segments and the parts of your business that are most important for you."
Whether business is slow or booming, building relationships is crucial for any business to succeed. Networking plays a big role in attracting more business. According to Dawson, attending networking events is very important to the future of his business. "The customer must trust you before they will allow you to work on their system," said Dawson. "It is so important to meet people and gain a professional relationship with other business owners."
Reeser attends many networking events sponsored by SpiritBank's Business Resource Center. The Business Resource Center is a central hub for small businesses that offer a strategic partner network, educational seminars and networking events. "I know of no other institution that brings it clients together in such a way," said Reeser.
Even though the national news may be grim, Oklahoma's economy is still very strong. "The media hype is worse than the fallout in Oklahoma," said Hartzog. And, statistics prove this. "The national average for foreclosures is one in every 343 homes whereas the Oklahoma City metro reflects one in every 1,260 homes is in foreclosure," said Reeser. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 6.1 percent. In Oklahoma, that number is only 3.8 percent.
As our state continues to thrive, so will our Oklahoma businesses.