How to make a recession-proof business in 2024

When the unthinkable happens and the economy shrinks into decline, how can you make your business a recession-proof business? Encountering a recession when your business isn’t prepared can be tough, but with the right toolkit and advice at hand, you can give it a great chance to not just survive but thrive. In this guide, we’ll take you through our 6 top strategies to successfully create a recession-proof business. 

So what is a recession?

A recession is when an economy experiences a significant decline in economic activity, which is typically calculated by the state of the country’s economic health & size – a.k.a gross domestic product (GDP). 

It is usually defined as a recession when the GDP falls for two quarters (3-month periods) in a row. During a recession, businesses and consumers are more reluctant to spend, and as a result, businesses often fail during this period. 

Industries that do well during a recession

A recession doesn’t necessarily mean bad news to all businesses though. Some industries can still continue to trade as normal, with little to no bumps along the way, while others actually thrive during such periods. 

It comes down to the products and services these businesses offer, that customers see as “essential” and meet their needs. According to Netsuite (2022), this includes the likes of: 

  • Healthcare 
  • Food & Drink 
  • Education 
  • Baby products 
  • Utilities 
  • Automotive 
  • Home Repairs 
  • Financial Services 

These types of industries are sometimes referred to as recession-proof, but that doesn’t mean that your business won’t succeed during an economic downturn if you’re not in that industry!

In fact, many businesses see a recession as an opportunity to refine and restructure their business and, in general, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. So, the question is – how can you become a recession-proof business and ensure your business continues to operate? 

6 strategies to make your business recession-proof

  1. Multiple revenue streams 

Ensuring you have a variety of revenue streams is a key way to create a recession-proof business.

This could include the likes of affiliate marketing, where you offer social media influencers with a high following a commission to promote your products and services to their customers; or earning through advertisements that are seen on your website. 

However you decide to create an extra income, having a variety of different revenue streams will help you stay on track and provide you with more opportunities to be flexible and navigate through challenging economic times. 

  1. Optimise your marketing spend

You might think that one of the biggest costs you could save on is your marketing spend, right? Wrong. Marketing is your way of reaching new customers, and while it may be important to optimise spend, don’t go overcautious and lose potential customers. If new or existing customers don’t know what’s going on, you can’t target them with your products or services – and ultimately, this will lead to a drop off in engagement and sales. Now’s the time to be smart about your marketing strategy – how can you continue to engage with consumers, without the expense? 

Whether it’s a CRM specialist, a paid search expert, or a social media wizard you need, an intelligent marketing strategy can be the answer to maximising sales and being on your way to becoming a recession-proof business. 

  1. Track your KPIs 

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – what are they? 

KPIs tell you when you have met or not met results when it comes to sales and marketing. These are critical to keeping an eye on and tracking. You want your marketing campaigns to be performing strongly, and if they aren’t, to stop and reassess. Having access to KPIs will allow you to closely monitor progress and make decisions quickly – saving your business-critical costs during a recession.

If you don’t know what KPIs you should be tracking, why not work with a data analyst to help you set up the correct dashboards? 

  1. Hire a freelancer 

Create a flexible workforce. Whilst for certain positions, it’s essential to have full-time employees, for other roles it’s often a luxury. Working with freelancers allows you to scale up and down in an instant according to your budget and project requirements. 

Rather than going through the horrible task of making people redundant, which often has an impact on the morale of the rest of your employees, you can simply reduce the hours with a freelancer.

Unlike agencies, there’s no formal contract or 3-month break clause with most freelancers, and freelancers are usually a much cheaper option.

Finding ways to lower overhead costs in advance can really help in creating a recession-proof business. And hiring freelancers is a great way to do it.

  1. Target existing customers 

When times of economic uncertainty happen, you can’t afford to lose existing customers. In fact, you need to celebrate them. Invest in your current relationships –  word of mouth is a beautiful thing and if your clients have great experiences with your business, they’ll share this and bring new customers to your doorstep! 

Existing customers are familiar with the products and services you offer – making them a great audience for upselling and cross-selling. Given they know your products and services already – marketing to existing customers can be a cost-effective and efficient way to boost your sales, hence why they play an important role in recession-proofing your business. 

  1. Stick to your budget and operate within it

This strategy is vital if you want to be a recession-proof business. Set a budget and stick with it. Following a strict budget at all times is good business practice and means that when a recession hits, you’ll be in a strong position to operate your business as normal.

Unsure what your budget should look like? You can always hire a freelance accountant or financial expert to crunch the numbers for you.

So, although recessions tend to be a period of uncertainty and dread for many businesses, they can be equally used as an opportunity to dig deeper and tidy up. Not only in the form of overheads but also by marketing and tracking your KPIs, investing in your existing customers, sticking to your budget, and creating multiple revenue streams.