The last 15 years or so have been pretty turbulent from an economic point of view. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look set to change, with the current Brexit deal / no deal / change of leadership shenanigans! When you throw into the mix the prospect of a possible General Election, it’s no wonder that people are confused, disillusioned and fearful about the future. As a business owner, you may feel that you can’t plan for the future until the uncertainty is resolved, but that’s a dangerous path to take. I would argue that now is the time to take action to ensure your business will weather the economic storm that may be coming!

Doing nothing is not an option!

Nobody really knows what’s going to happen when we leave the EU, but an economic slowdown is possible. But recessions are just the business equivalent to nature’s autumn and winter. During boom years, successful businesses can become over staffed, costs get out of control, and careless deals are done. This results in companies that, whilst looking good and profitable from the outside, are in reality relying on constant economic growth to hide their weaknesses.

During tough times, many badly managed businesses will fail. That means there will be more opportunity for well-run businesses to flourish. More good people available for employment. A better choice of premises to rent. Additional funding to be had from the banks.  Disappointed customers looking for new suppliers. It’s your job as a business owner to make sure your business is ready to capitalise on the opportunities that could come your way. In my opinion, there are 3 key things that you need to focus on in the next 12 months to ensure that you are ready to weather whatever economic climate you may be faced with:

Understand your true financial position

You need to know exactly how your business is performing. For example, the profitability per product/service line, your cash-flow, debtors, creditors, operational efficiencies, sales and marketing key performance indicators. If you have delegated this task to an employee or outside agency then, make sure you understand what the numbers are telling you. Make sure you review them on a regular basis, and act on the information when you need to. Remember, the buck always stops with you. Burying your head in the sand is not a good strategy!

Know exactly where you are going

You need a clear vision for the future of the business, a long term (5-10 year) goal, and a plan of how you’re going to get there. You and your team must know what needs to happen this week, this month, this quarter to progress to your goal. If you don’t have an action plan, you’re going to be slow out of the gate, lacking in direction, and miss the opportunities. You’ll find yourself no further forward in 5 years than you are now, if indeed you’re still in business then.

Make time to work ON the business, not just IN it

In order to see the bigger picture, you have to step back from the day to day of your business. During an economic downturn, it is OK to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. But if you keep on doing this, there will be nobody steering the boat, and there’s a danger of ending up on the rocks! So be the captain of your destiny, take the helm, and start to chart your course to the future you desire.

One final thing – not all companies that will go bust when the next recession hits will be bad companies.  Good ones will go as well, but only because they did not try to be better.  As Tiger Woods said, “No matter how good you get, you can always get better.”

So go on, take ACTION, and ensure that your business is ready to face the future, no matter what the economic climate!