Position Your Company for an Economic Rebound: Eight steps to a prosperous future

No one can predict with certainty what the economy will do in the next twelve months: go up, go down or remain essentially the same. But most economic experts agree that a rebound is inevitable. When that occurs, you'll want your company to be in position to reap the potential rewards.

How can you do that? Mainly through a little foresight and a lot of common sense. Here are eight specific steps a company can take now to strengthen itself:

1. Button up the budget.

Keep a close watch on proceedings and adjust your budget accordingly. For instance, a further downturn may require more belt-tightening, while an upturn could give you more leeway. If you utilize expert cost analysis and other budgetary measures, your company should be better equipped to capitalize on improving conditions.

2. Re-assess the workforce.

Did layoffs cut too deeply during this last year's downturn? It may be time to rebuild your staff by adding highly skilled professionals to the roster. If it meets your company's needs, hire temporary workers or independent contractors to help fill the gaps.

3. Adhere to compliance requirements.

It is important to "keep your eye on the ball" when it comes to financial reporting requirements, information technology (IT) controls, risk-assessment procedures and other documentation. Continue to use business advisers to address corporate governance issues. Small public companies should assess the means to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

4. Anticipate financial reporting changes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is requiring that public companies report financials using an interactive data format by 2011. Other changes will involve convergence in the rules for domestic and international reporting. Help your staff become better educated and prepared for these initiatives.

5. Train employees

for the future.

Undoubtedly, any training activities may have waned in recent months if your business has struggled. Reinvest in your people by reinstituting training procedures that can help your company seize new business opportunities. Emphasizing professional development can also boost employee job satisfaction and company morale.

6. Improve IT systems.

If your company has been forced to "make do" with outdated technology, it may be time to upgrade. Outdated systems can affect your ability to compete in the marketplace. Caveat: IT changes usually take considerable time and money. Before you undertake improvements, make sure you have the resources needed to implement the plan.

7. Expand the product line.

Be ready to launch a new product or service offering once the economy turns around. Conduct a thorough cost analysis, and use other business projections to improve the likelihood of a successful launch. Do your research now, and be prepared to spring into action.

8. Protect your

best employees.

Currently, the job market is tight, but that can change dramatically under different economic conditions. For instance, some of your top performers may be lured away by competitors when the economy rebounds. Be proactive: Meet with employees regularly to discuss their career paths. Try to lay out objectives and let them know how much you appreciate their contributions.

As with the economy, there are no absolute guarantees. But taking these steps should help position your firm for the future.

Any advice in this communication is not intended or written by Rehmann to be used, and cannot be used by a client or any other person or entity for the purpose of:(I) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or;(II) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein. The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

Kerry Nelson, CPA is a tax principal for Rehmann. She draws from over 15 years of Public Accounting knowledge, providing accounting and tax services to family-owned and closely held businesses, their shareholders and officers. She is located in the Traverse City office. 231.946.8927, kerry.nelson@rehmann.com.