Small Business Owners Guide: Growing Your Business in Uncertain Times

How can small businesses manage growth in uncertain times?

The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard on small businesses and now, with the impending recession on the horizon times can be uncertain. Many have had to shutter their doors for good, while others are struggling to keep their heads above water.

However, it is possible to grow your small business - you just have to be strategic about it. In this article, we will go over a few tips on how to hold and grow your business as a small business owner in uncertain economic times.

Develop a Marketing Plan

The most difficult place to start, though it might seem simpler, is finding the correct customer base that is consistent and reliable in times of uncertainty. Once you know who your customers are, it's time to develop a marketing plan.

A good marketing plan will include a mix of online and offline tactics, such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and traditional advertising. The key is to use the right mix of tactics to reach your target audience where they're already spending their time.

We will touch on these later in this article, but here are a few initial steps and rationale when you're uncertain and looking to solidify your marketing efforts:

Photo of a Woman Writing on a Whiteboard with Sticky Notes

Assess your current business situation.  

Does the onset of a recession impact your business greatly? Or minimally?  Conducting a SWOT analysis to identify competitors, opportunities for growth, strength, and weaknesses.

Determine what you are able to invest

Set a budget for what you're able to spend monthly on new client/customer outreach.

Outline your marketing goals

What is your goal with the amount you're able to invest in marketing? Are you trying to grow your brand/business awareness, increase lead generation, or increase your monthly revenue?

Identify your target audience

We'll go over this more next, but who is your core audience and how can they carry your business efforts?

Define your customer base and invest in digital marketing.

The first step to growing your small business is to define your customer base. Who are your ideal customers? What do they look like? What do they do for a living? What are their interests? Once you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is, you can start to craft marketing and sales strategies that will appeal to them.

In order to reach new customers and compete with larger businesses, it's essential to invest in digital marketing. A strong online presence will help you attract new customers and grow your business. Consider hiring a digital marketing agency to help create and implement a digital marketing strategy.

Diversify your products and services

Another way to grow your small business is by diversifying your products and services. This will not only attract new customers but also help you weather economic downturns. For example, if you own a restaurant, you could start offering delivery or takeout services. Or, if you own a retail store, you could start selling online.

For example, in 1998, Amazon initially started as a company focused on selling video games and most notably, books. But, before long, the company expanded into various electronics, software, toys, and even more.

Amazon took its initial business approach as an online retailer of video games and books and expanded to services/products in the vicinity of its core business model.

Invest in Your Website

Your website is often the first impression potential customers will have of your small business. Make sure it's up to date and reflects the products or services you offer. If you don't have the budget to hire a professional web designer, there are plenty of DIY options available, such as WordPress or Squarespace. Just make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.

Now, this may not be feasible for you. I mean, you are running your own business and may not necessarily have the time to dedicate to creating (and learning) your own website! Which is where First Thought can help. By investing in an enticing, navigable, and efficient website, your business can grow digitally and expand even more than initially anticipated.

Cut costs wherever possible and focus on cash flow

Finally, it's important to focus on cash flow during uncertain times. This means closely monitoring your expenses and only spending money on essential items. It may also mean delaying some of your planned expansions or hires until conditions improve. By focusing on cash flow, you'll ensure that your small business remains solvent during tough times.

Take a close look at your overhead costs and see where you can make cuts. For example, you may be able to negotiate lower rent payments with your landlord or switch to a cheaper office space. You may also be able to save money by outsourcing some of your non-essential tasks.

BONUS: A marketing tip that can help you cut costs and improve your online or physical traffic, as mentioned above, is to invest in local SEO practices. This will ensure that your business is searchable on a local level without necessarily having to invest money into paid advertising efforts.


Uncertain times can be tough for small businesses - but it is possible to grow your business even in the midst of an economic downturn. By investing in digital marketing, diversifying your products and services, cutting costs wherever possible, and focusing on cash flow, you can weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side.

If you are unsure how to go about these small business tips and would like some professional guidance, that's what First Thought is here for. You can book a no-cost consultation for your small business by filling out the form below and we can discuss how our services can benefit you and your goals.