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Managing your business in uncertain times

Author: Martin Munro, TAB Facilitator in West Hertfordshire

All around the world, TAB Members are sharing their plans for 2022 with their peers amidst continuing uncertainty and disruption stemming from the pandemic. Every business is different  but these common themes are emerging:

  • Economic uncertainty
  • Inflation pressures
  • Weakened consumer confidence
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Inventory shortages
  • Labour shortages
  • Productivity challenges
  • Interest rate uncertainty

Despite this, many TAB members remain bullish about the future and continue to plan for growth.

Not all are out-and-out optimists with supreme self-belief. And yet, in 2021 – a difficult and uncertain year by any standards - many TAB Members smashed their goals and celebrated champagne moments to mark their success. So, where does that confidence and success come from? Three things show up time and time again – mindset, planning, and action focus.

Mindset

Times of greatest uncertainty and change is when a flexible and positive mindset is most important to see it as an opportunity, not a threat.

Ambiguity is a fact of life. No one has a crystal ball, and it is never possible to have total control. Embrace the ambiguity, identify what you don’t know, and move forward based on what you do know. Accept that there will be bumps in the road. Stay positive and do not dwell on things you cannot control. Acting and making mistakes may be better than doing nothing. Be prepared to respond quickly and decisively to changes as they happen.

Planning

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.

The very discipline of defining objectives and working through the critical success factors and strategies for making it happen helps to identify the risks and sensitivities and ways to manage the downside when needed. Speak to your customers and suppliers to understand their view of the world. Consult people around you - including other leaders, advisers, experts, and peers - to identify new opportunities and contribute fresh ideas as well as potential weaknesses or over-optimistic assumptions.

Action Focus

Keep it simple.

Focus on quality through staff training and customer feedback and the top 3 priorities that will not change irrespective of the uncertainty. Know your numbers and keep a close eye on the cash. Focus on positive actions – attack is often the best line of defence. Manage your time and look after yourself - sleep, diet and exercise, and time for the things you enjoy outside of work. Get help if you need it so you aren’t spread too thinly.

If you've enjoyed these top tips, download a copy of our 4-step guide to Strategic Business Planning.

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