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    Posted October 9, 2008 by
    Los Angeles, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your business: Is the financial crisis hitting home?

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    Coping in Hard Time

    We are an online business for a luxury home decor catalog called Inside Avenue.com (www.insideavenue.com). Our business is very dependent on the economy. When it's good, our sales is through the roof, and when it's not, well... However, despite all the gloom and doom talk out there, our business manages to survive, and in some ways, thrive. Here are a few things that contributed to that: 1) Diversify-as the housing market began to cool off and our furniture sale is taking a hit, we started to diversity into less expensive items such as home accessories, fabrics and lighting. This allows us to maintain our core business and stay within our theme in addition to bringing in additional revenue. 2) Cut cost everywhere we can. This is obvious, but we have become extremely cost-conscious in everything we do. For example, we use ground freight instead of 2-day freight whenever possible. We print of both sides of the paper (althought that is more for environment purpose than anything else). We recycled ink cartridges of buying new ones. We switched to IP phone and cut our telephone bill in half. 3)Outsource. We started to outsource mundane function such as data entry overseas. Instead of hiring full time customer service agents, we outsourced our customer service function to a call center in the Midwest. We ended saving tons of money and time. 4)Be creative. We hardly spend any money on advertising. We simply can't afford it. We focus on marketing strategies we can do ourselves such as search engine marketing, social networking and public relation. It doesn't cost anything, for example, to write to the editor of the home section at the Los Angeles Times (where we are based). We are constantly surprised of how responsive the press is. Come up with a good angle, and you'll get noticed. Hard times like this is good in a way because it forces you to work hard and be less complacent. When good time does come around again, and it will, we'll be in a position to enjoy it. Our message to our fellow small business owners is- keep your head up and be strong--no matter how hard things get. You'll get through it.
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