Preparedness is key to navigate economic uncertainty

It’s been a tough time for businesses over the past few years. We’ve been living through a long period of economic uncertainty, initially fuelled by the pandemic, but more recently the steep rise in the cost of living.

Preparedness is key to navigate economic uncertainty

It’s been a tough time for businesses over the past few years. We’ve been living through a long period of economic uncertainty, initially fuelled by the pandemic, but more recently the steep rise in the cost of living. Analysts, economists, and investors around the world are predicting a market downturn in the not-too-distant future that could very much impact consumer behaviour, labour markets, supply chains, and life as we know it. It is safe to say – you just don’t know what is around the corner. 

I’ve spent most of my career supporting businesses of all sizes, but more specifically small and midsize businesses (SMBs). 

I have learnt that in the face of turbulence, preparedness is key. A strong foundation can help businesses remain efficient through whatever headwinds may be on the horizon. Resiliency – a buzz word which has come into play particularly over the past few years – can help businesses mitigate risk and limit any impact on operations. But where do you start? How can resiliency be achieved? 

Businesses can thrive through difficult times and whether the anticipated downturn becomes a recession, an economic hurricane, or financial headwinds, there are actions businesses big, medium, and small can be taking today to not only navigate through a volatile market but thrive through uncertain times. Transforming uncertainty into opportunity could present endless prospects for your business.

Keep Connected

The possibility of another recession can and will affect everyone. Consumers are anxious about the economic forecast as many remember and powered through the significant side effects of 2008’s Great Recession. 

Transparent and timely communication will help build their trust and position you as a valuable partner through turbulent times. Whether it’s ensuring a customer on hold is being reassured that their call matters or hosting regular webinars to provide updates to the community you serve, develop a regular cadence of communication and touch points with those you work closest with. It’s true – customer experience is the new battlefield. Recent research from HubSpot found that 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service. Now is not the time to cut budgets on customer experience strategies. 

Employees come first

People are already feeling the strain, and should we enter a recession, employees will be even more likely to feel financial stress. Living through the great resignation, we know how difficult it is to retain talent and how expensive it is to hire new talent in this market. 

Richard Branson was onto something when he said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. Companies that are seeing the most success are putting their employees’ satisfaction high on the list of focus areas. Now is the time to listen to your employees, show your support and remind them that they are valued. 

Simplify your tech stack

Go after the low-hanging, cost-saving fruit. Businesses (especially small businesses) can save a lot of money with just a little vendor management of their current technology stack. A software license that is critical one month may not be required a month later. Employees in a business come and go – and so a system that was widely used and understood a year ago may not resonate with staff a year later. The only way to decipher this is to step back, evaluate the use – and usefulness – of all technology applications and ensure that the essential connections are in place for employees, customers and partners. 

Ask the question to your employees – make them feel part of the process as you review IT needs. Have you considered outsourcing the management of IT? Don’t assume this could always be an additional cost. It could actually be a sensible investment resulting in time saving and happier employees.  

Consider making your next event virtual

We all love a good in-person event or connection but – as we have discovered in recent years, it’s not always the safest or cheapest. In today’s flexible world, just because physical events can’t go ahead because of the risk to health, the need to reduce costs, and in more recent times, train strikes – a virtual event can still be advantageous. Yes, traditional webinars have been somewhat overdone since the pandemic but there are ways to make this format of events more engaging by leveraging features such as polling and webcasting.

Communication through uncertain times is also one of the most important aspects of navigating your business through change. If you aren’t doing it already, start hosting regular (monthly, quarterly) webinars that are exciting and engaging for your current and future customers. Remind your ecosystem that – as cheesy as it might sounds, “we’re all in this together”. Use it as a platform to share knowledge and insights that will be of value to others also weathering the storm. 

Be willing to adapt 

In uncertain times, flexibility is crucial. Businesses and professionals must react with urgency to the ever-changing market and customer demands. Stay close to market trends and your business performance so that you can adapt quickly. A business plan can always be changed – it isn’t set in stone. 

We can’t control the fear of the unknown and uncertainty. As humans we are wired to feel these emotions. But one thing I do know is it’s never too early to future-proof your business – but it can be too late. 

Jamie Domenici
Jamie Domenici

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