The past 2 years will be remembered as two of the most politically turbulent years in a generation. So what can we expect short term and what preparations should you make to keep your business supported and growing?
The recent election result being a hung parliament is causing further confusion, plus current personal views and opinions fanned by the social media circus results in continued noisy rhetoric and uncertainty. And all before anything fundamentally material has been implemented or changed by the proposed new government.
Looking forward any UK GDP growth during 2017 will very much depend on the above outcomes and then when and how we push forward with BREXIT negotiations.
Unfortunately, consumers and our customers need a clear vison, a sense of purpose to instil confidence, to invest and procure our products and services. To add to all this currency exchange rates, world stock markets and commodity prices will continue to be volatile.
So what can you do to support your business and its growth, in this time of political turbulence?
1. Step back and take an external view:
If you haven’t done so already, ensure you take some time to fully understand how these events effect your customers, their customer’s and also your own business costs and net effect on sales. Also review the impact of your personal situation such as pensions and investments and understand threats and opportunities.
Purchase of big ticket items may and will be delayed. Recruitment plans within larger organisations will be stalled. Imported products, oil based products and raw material prices are 10 – 12% higher than 6 months ago. If concerned or you envisage a risk to your business, please seek professional advice and don’t do anything radical unless you are professionally advised to. I would also advise that you get more than one professional opinion.
2. Don’t just focus on the negatives as there will be positives too
Sit down with your key employees and managers and share any potential implications that may affect your business.
Not every business sector will be negatively affected. If the pound continues to slip lower against the world’s main currencie, this will continue to encourage tourists to come to the UK as it’s cheaper.
If you are linked to the tourism industry you may well benefit in the short term. The UK population will find it at least 12% dearer to go abroad on holiday than stay in the UK, a double boost to tourism particularly across Cumbria. If you export UK produced products or services currency rates could well be a competitive advantage too. We will continue to see overseas company’s attraction to investing in UK property, infrastructure, luxury goods, stocks and purchasing UK based businesses.
3. Draw up 3 potential scenarios
Base these on low, medium and high risks outcomes and create action plans and review at least fortnightly. Agree critical trigger points and implement appropriate actions when necessary
4. Consistently communicate
Be positive and support your staff. Hold staff meetings, tool box talks, 1-2-1s, set up a Q&A forum. Employees could be concerned that their jobs may be at risk and particularly if you have any EU or overseas workers. By engaging your staff and focusing on improved employee productivity and efficiency, you can still make a positive difference to your business bottom line performance even if sales are slow, flat or even decline during 2017.
5. Stay close to your customers
Continue to keep in close touch with those who have already ordered but not taken delivery. Reassure them and check if there are risks to cancellations. You may have to incur increased costs, resulting in reduced margins or have repricing conversations to pass on surcharges. These are best to be started as soon as there is likely to be any impact. Again there may even be positive business and profitable opportunities, I recall one of my cleinst back in 2009 buying a lot of stock at reduced prices, so evaluate your marketplace and exploit opportunitities if applicable.
Finally – Ensure you continually analyse your business market drivers, review any medium term business plans based on the above steps and continue to measure performance and adapt accordingly. Agility is and will be a key success factor.
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, it is to act with yesterday’s logic” – Peter Drucker (1974)
If you would like advice on how to grow your business and review where it is now, request a free business health check!