The most important thing to remember as a business owner navigating uncertain times is simple: with a proper planning process in place you can have confidence. Believe that you will make it through the storm, that the clouds will part and sunshine will once again fall upon your enterprise.
Although external factors are usually ignored because they are out of our control they need to form part of our plan. But the things happening within our business are even more important.
Too often we focus on past mistakes and allow hindsight to overwhelm future planning. Put more energy into understanding just where you are, where you want to go and then mapping out how to get there.
When planning during uncertain times, action and progress are the barometers for measuring success. Stagnancy will flood the boat - be quick, decisive and most importantly know your bearings. Start with the fundamentals:
- It's the planning process, not the plan itself. Don't let unpredictable outcomes derail your ability to follow through. Your plans should innately allow for flexibility and buffers for change.
- Review, revise, correct. Repeat!
- Hone in on a foolproof warning system - one that monitors changes and can highlight early warning signs of trouble. Pay closer attention to every detail.
- Tighten focus, value your lucrative clientele and watch your cash flow.
- Improve and streamline communication strategies within the business.
Consider taking on a counter-intuitive mindset. If it seems like the time to cut down, resist the urge! Growth in times of duress has proven to promote longevity, and encourages business owners to be risk-takers who strive to survive. Well thought out forecasts will dictate the best course for you.
If you do decide that cuts are necessary, target specifically and avoid wide sweeping cost reduction methods.
Remove your ego from the equation - that's right, you are not expected to know it all! Knowing when to ask for help and accept advice or support is a powerful quality, both humbling and intelligent. Remember, we are experienced and here to help with specific tools and resources designed just for businesses like yours.
Positive cash flow is also the time to consider applying for lines of credit and will allow for better terms and conditions to be laid out. Take this time to also foster a relationship with your bank - you never know when you will need to count on their goodwill.
Take the time during a rough patch to beef up your core - revisit fundamentals, train staff, manage customer relationships and conduct regular financial assessments. Keeping busy will help keep you focused, which is the only way to overcome the hurdles and challenges.