Global economic uncertainty fueled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has left many businesses struggling with unprecedented challenges to their survival.
But the current crisis can be a growth opportunity for businesses who take the time to embrace the unknown and strategically position themselves to move forward, says Rick Gendemann, partner at Manning Elliott, an accounting and business advisory firm with offices in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and Abbotsford.
“In order for businesses to navigate through a crisis, it’s important for owners to take a position of stability and not panic,” Gendemann says.
“It will be more fruitful for business owners to be proactive and take control of the situation. Don’t focus on what you can’t control. Focus on what you can control.”
Businesses should be willing to adapt to the current marketplace and take the time to define their value propositions.
“Take a step back and ask about what you offer customers and what they can get from you that you can’t get from anyone else,” Gendemann says.
“Oftentimes, business owners don’t think about these things when business is going well. But when the rug gets pulled out from under you, it focuses you and forces you to question your value proposition.”
Stepping back to examine the current economic landscape and position your business to move forward is crucial to survival.
“Is it going to be difficult to transition to a different platform than the one that you’re using? Absolutely. Everything has its challenges, but it’s about being open-minded to what you can do going forward,” Gendemann says.
“Business owners can’t make it happen all by themselves. They need their support group to help get them there.”
Advisors at Manning Elliott can help businesses easily navigate and adapt to the current economic climate by looking at four key areas of day-to-day business functions: products and services, marketing and sales, systems and processes, and people resources.
Products and services
Businesses need to look closely at how they manage inventory and make whatever necessary adjustments based on current and projected sales activity. They need to look at what they currently offer and how that can be enhanced. If businesses are in the process of developing or rolling out new products, they should be mindful of the costs to launch and market them. Targeting new customer sales activity is a risky and time-consuming business development activity. Now might not be the right time to use up valuable resources on an untested sales activity.
Marketing and sales
As we increasingly move to a digital environment, businesses need to be well positioned to meet their customers where they are. Ensure that your website provides opportunities for clients to offer second and third tier sales. It’s also crucial to be more focused on marketing efforts right now.
“It’s not the time to just spend money for the sake of it,” Gendemann says.
“Stop loose end marketing initiatives. Take your marketing money and put it towards your top 20 customers. Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.”
Systems and processes
Are you using efficient and streamlined systems to reduce your cost to produce? Can you make tweaks to improve efficiency?
“It’s not about making total wholesale changes,” Gendemann says.
“It’s not about doing one thing 100 per cent better; it’s about doing 100 things one per cent better.”
Great teams are a key part of any successful business. While businesses feeling the financial crunch may need to manage their labour costs, Gendemann suggests businesses get creative rather than move directly to layoffs. Try temporary outsourcing, part-time work or job sharing, or modifying compensation.
Manning Elliott works with business owners to create action plans and strategies while taking into consideration those four essential elements.
“When the economy is on the rebound and you have a much more disciplined, streamlined and efficient operation, you’ll be glad you made the investment in your business plan,” Gendemann says.
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