The Big Squeeze
Businesses have always faced challenges, but the last two and a half years have been more demanding than most. The speed and strength of the bounce back following the pandemic resulted in shortages of labour and raw materials, and surging energy costs, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, have driven-up prices and given way to the biggest inflation hike in 40 years. The effects are likely to be felt more acutely by small to medium sized companies and many business owners will be entering unfamiliar territory.
The word agility has become so over-used that it no longer resonates, but that does not disguise the fact that businesses do have to adapt faster than at any time in their history. Whether the current crisis is temporary or becomes more deep-rooted is anyone’s guess, but one thing is clear – it’s not business as usual. Company owners who fail to act may wake up to find they no longer have a business.
Top-flight sports teams and athletes never take success for granted. They work harder, train harder and become even more analytical. Businesses must do the same. There will always be another obstacle or competitor to overcome, but the solution is to devote sufficient time to think and plan, particularly in a crisis, rather than to constantly react, which saps energy and resource for zero gain.
For highly successful companies, continuous improvement forms part of their ethos, but many less successful businesses remain stubbornly resistant to change and entrenched in their views. Some may go as far as identifying problems and engaging external expertise, but lack the courage or drive to implement their recommendations. There is always room for improvement for those with an appetite to look for it.
Over the next 10 weeks, we will present a series of short articles and podcasts that will cover the following topics:
- Why you must protect your margin
- Focus on your best people
- Best ways to improve business productivity
- Top tips for reducing costs in your business
- Pricing for success – determining your strategy
- 7 Essential drivers to manage your cashflow
- Making sure your systems and processes work for you
- Leveraging technology to bring about change
- Love your key clients
- Building a compelling brand
Clearly, these articles won’t provide all the answers and some will have more relevance to your business or industry than others, but they may help you to identify a few actions you can take to mitigate the effects of the headwinds we are all facing.