Every business experiences times of turbulence and uncertainty. Ultimately how they deal with it will have a significant impact on how they emerge.
Some may bury their heads in the sand, hope for the best and hopefully ride it out. Others may downsize, anticipating the worst, and do their best to cling on to a smaller version of what they had. Others still may become so fixated on whatever is causing the uncertainty, that it detracts from their day to day performance, ultimately leading to a worse customer or client experience, which in turn starts to lose them business.
There are others though, who will take a more proactive approach. In Stepehen Covey’s famous book, “The 7 Habbits of Highly Effective People”, habit one is be proactive. As part of his discussion on proactivity he touches on our ability to control how we respond. He writes about the fact that our behaviour results from our decisions, not our conditions, and that in any given situation we have “response-ability” – the ability to choose our response.
The recent outcome of the referendum on Brexit has, undoubtedly caused a state of uncertainty in the UK. Some major questions now hang over our nation – will we still have access to the single market? Will the UK as we know it continue to exist? What will the economic landscape look like once we are out?
Take control of what you can control
The truth is, we don’t know the answers to these questions at the moment – they are out of our control. And there are likely to be numerous times as business owners when external factors out of our control have the potential to impact our businesses. What is within our control though is how we respond. We can get caught up worrying about the things that we can’t control, or we can choose to face it straight on, make proactive decisions and look to work out how we can emerge stronger.
It’s time to get strategic
To deal with uncertainty effectively, it’s important to think strategically. In such situations it’s important to ask yourself questions such as: what part of my business is most likely to be effected by the situation? And then: and what can I do about it?
By way of a few examples – In the case of Brexit, it may be that you are currently reliant on importing from the EU. In which case it would be wise to analyse now what the potential impact could be of a weaker pound and a potential higher trade tariff. Is this a cost your customers can absorb? Where else in the world could you source from and at what comparative price? Are there any other ways you could streamline to reduce cost elsewhere?
Perhaps you think the most likely impact is going to be on your labour force, in which case you should probably start reviewing your recruitment process and pipeline and start considering how you could alter or diversify it.
You may think the impact will be so catastrophic to your sector that it is likely to dry up your market entirely. In which case, you should probably start to assess what markets are likely to survive or even thrive that your business model could be most easily adapted to fulfil the needs of and assess the viability of moving in to those markets?
The important thing is to be proactive and think strategically. Don’t become paralysed by fear, but do everything you can, control the things that you can and be asking yourself the questions that can most help mitigate the threats of the circumstances.
Nail your marketing and sales
In the particular case of Brexit, the chances are it may impact the business landscape as a whole quire broadly for a while – if the economy is shrinking, your potential clients may be spending less and the overall market may shrink. But for most SMEs, there is still more than enough work to be had within the market to fill your books and in fact grow your business, it’s just that you will need to be better than your competitors in order to do it.
It’s true that in uncertain times individuals and businesses review their buying behaviour. That means that your customers are likely to be doing this, however it also means that your competitors’ customers are going to be doing it too.
By ensuring that your service and value offering is as strong as you can make it, you will make sure that you retain your clients because they will have no reason to go elsewhere. Couple this with a well thought out marketing and sales strategy and plan, where your target market is clearly defined, where your marketing messages are clear and your marketing methods are ensuring they are reaching the correct audience and times of uncertainty can in fact present an opportunity to grow. Particularly as there are likely to be more potential customers assessing their buying behaviour and looking for alternatives.
Of course should you feel you would benefit from any help with your sales and marketing strategy and planning, or indeed any other aspect of strategic planning for your business, drop us a line to find out more about how we could help by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org