Dealing with uncertain economic times

As we all know recent business conditions have been difficult as we travel through recessions and face uncertain and challenging times both in the general economy and also within our own businesses. For many of us these are unprecedented times. The inevitable outcome is that levels of uncertainty for all of us have become amplified leading to material problems with developing strategy, operating effectively and structuring our organisations correctly.

Why should this be? Well, I think all of us find a great level of discomfort when faced with uncertainty, and in the current climate, uncertainty assails us from all directions – the global economy is a mess and the signs of recovery are few and far between. Credit markets are tight and there are significant issues in raising much needed funding. Legal constraints seem to increase by the day and our impact on the environment is a growing concern. Each of these factors leads to greater uncertainty and inevitably results in business decisions being taken for the short term rather than with a longer view. Simply put, we end up dealing with the pressures of today rather than looking at what is right to develop our businesses for the years ahead.

So what should we do about this?

Most importantly we need to develop our strategic planning and accompany this with contingency planning to help us deal with short term business issues or environment changes. We need to set Key Performance Indicators and monitor them on a regular basis so we know what is really happening in the business and the environment it is operating in. This will help us understand where our business is and provide us with the flexibility to change it should the business environment require it.

We have all heard the old maxim of ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. So why do so many running modern business avoid planning? I believe it’s because it’s just hard work and takes up a lot of time, which can be spent dealing with the day to day challenges in the business or simply making some money today. However, this is a short term view and is counter-productive to the long term success of the business. Planning should be seen as essential as it puts in place the foundations for a successful long term future.

A comprehensive strategic plan with objectives provides a road map to success and the actual process of producing it allows us to question every aspect of our business from assessing our competitors to marketing, through sales and operations to finance and human resources and how each of these fit in the markets that we operate in. It gives us a chance to assess how they all inter-relate and how changes in one area affect other areas.

Some people also perceive a business plan as something they only need to do when they start a business or when they need to raise finance, but an up to date and monitored business plan should be the cornerstone of every successful business and typically includes:

  • Your mission statement
  • A company summary
  • Details of your products or services
  • An analysis of the market
  • Strategy plans
  • Implementation plans
  • Web plans summary
  • Management and organisation
  • Financial plans and forecasts

So what should you do? I am biased and would say that you should take advantage of one of our free business checks and explore with us how you can develop your business. However, if this is not right for you, please spend some time researching business plans on the internet and put the time aside to develop a strategic plan for your business. In the short term it will require an investment in time from you and your management team, but in the long term it will pay you back many times over.

However, if you would like some help with a free business review simply forward your contact details and we will do the rest
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