Throughout the U.S., there are businesses dealing with big strategic questions about where to go from here. Managements of these companies are all asking the same questions: Is the recession over? What will be the pace of the recovery? Will the capital markets begin working again? Certainly, there is plenty of uncertainty out there. But you know what? There always is.

The question that every business leader should be asking right now is: Is this the time to be an opportunist? Is this the time to take share from weaker competitors? Is the time right to advance and implement those strategies that you had planned for 2 years ago? If you have a healthy balance sheet, a strong brand, and if you are accustomed to success, the answer must be yes: this is the time to be bold and take your business to the next level.

There are a number of initiatives that savvy, confident business leaders can use to expand their business irrespective of whether the market grows or not, simply by taking share from weaker, more timid competitors. Take some of these ideas on a test drive and see how they feel:

  • Cut Prices. If your business is the low cost producer, you can afford to cut prices and possibly margins in return for new customers who had been buying from the other guy. And remember, prices can always go back up later on.
  • Increase you marketing budget. Print a new, updated brochure, update your website, increase your advertising, dive into social media, or reposition your brand. These are all ways to let potential customers know where you are and what you do.
  • Invest in new markets. Perhaps it’s time to extend your reach to another geographic region and another demographic. Expand your base of potential customers.
  • Add new product lines. This is a great time to add new lines to what you already offer. It might be time to add a higher priced product that will allow you to up-sell existing customers or add a lower priced line that will allow you to expand your reach.
  • Expand number of locations. Capture market share by opening stores in locations that have previously been dominated by the competition. There are plenty of vacancies, and landlords are willing to cut deals.
  • Buy a competitor. The past 2 years have been a very tough economic environment. Do not assume that because you are doing great that all your competitors are enjoying your same success. In fact, we can guarantee you that they are not. Identify the most appropriate targets and then go after them. In all likelihood, you will be doing them a favor and some of them might be very happy to get an offer from you.

No doubt about it, being an opportunist takes major quantities of intestinal fortitude, money, and leadership. But these are the times when you can really make a difference in your business. Get your business plan together, call your banker, and get moving.