2008 was not the best year to be a small business owner – the financial downturn caused the crumbling of businesses all around. Given that Lee County was one of the hardest hit areas during the recession (9% unemployment in August 2008), being a small business owner in the area was twice as hard.
5 years later, I’m happy (actually, ecstatic) to see that Atilus is not only alive, but also thriving. Year to date in 2012, we have seen growth of over 49%, making it a record year for Atilus and we have returned to our pre-recession success. We’ve tripled our employee count and have executed major client accounts. As the CEO, I often get asked, “So, how did you make it?”
Track Your Resources
When you’re running a small business, it’s important to track every resource you have. Whether it’s time, employees, tools, ANYTHING – track these resources. I’m not suggesting tracking each second of each day, but take the time to begin using a tool that can help you keep a good grasp on your resources.
For example, we’ve implemented a project management tool, Basecamp, which helps track project time, correspondence between clients, files, and any other collaborative items. There are other amazing project management tools out there that are either free or very inexpensive (the peace of mind is well worth it!).
Do The Market Research
No matter what kind of business you’re in – small or large – it’s important to stay up-to-date on what your customers WANT. The world of web design and technology changes every day, and we needed to keep up.
We soon realized that clients weren’t only looking for websites – they were looking for full online marketing guidance. As such, we quickly adapted. Atilus is the only AdWords Certified Agency from Tampa to Miami. We launched Zincubate, an online resource for small business technology solutions. I wrote a book about everything having to do with small businesses and technology.
The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t just offer the same services and expect people to want them – you have to learn what THEY want, too.
Give Back to Your Community
Our community and our clients supported us during the recession, and it’s important to everyone at Atilus to continue to return the favor.
Many of Atilus’ employees (including myself) are Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni and it’s important to us to support the university. I completed a free webinar for the university and Atilus was also a major corporate sponsor for Dollars for Scholars, a fundraising event for student scholarships. In addition, Atilus and Ensite raised over $3,000 for the Take Stock in Children Program, a program that provides mentors and scholarships for at-risk youth.
Top Business Tip for Success
Running a business is never easy, but running a business during a recession? That’s the ultimate business-owner challenge. If you believe in your service, staff, mission, values, clients, and ultimately your company, your business can likely overcome anything (even a recession!).