How to prosper in uncertain times

As the economy becomes increasingly volatile, how can managing directors, CEOs and owner-managers prosper in uncertain times?

The younger and newer entrepreneurs may be exposed to an unstable climate for the first time. Its tempting to press the panic button but if there ever was an economy that punishes hysteria and sloppy thinking, this is it. Dont act without first taking time to think. If you keep calm, you can think on your feet and respond appropriately when challenges arise. 

Dont stop listening to your customers. In times like these, many MDs and CEOs become insular, ignoring customers and turning their focus to internal operational challenges. As a result, they disconnect themselves from the best source of current revenue and future success. Take the time to demonstrate your companys value and stability at every opportunity after all, your customers will be braving this difficult climate too. 

In a volatile business environment, the market can shrink and become elusive not to mention fiercely competitive. To outsmart other companies in your sector, you must learn what it is that customers value about doing business with you and your rivals. Armed with this information, you can developing a competitive advantage that will build upon your strengths and provide added value for your customer base. 

In uncertain times a committed, trustworthy team is priceless. Do everything you can to get the right people in the right place, right now. Having the wrong people on the bus could sink your business. 

Tough times call for tough action so jettison underperformers. Monitor the activity, quality and results of your staff and make sure your talent is best utilised to help you face the challenges ahead. 

Evaluate every part of your business. The rule is simple: if it doesnt yield a profit, get rid of it or scale it down. Remove your company from areas that arent going to grow. 

Indiscriminate cost cutting will weaken your business and place it in grave danger. Dont axe your most valuable team members or slash prices for new customers, while failing to invest in your relationships with longstanding clients. Identify what your customers value - this is the key building block of your competitive strategy. 

If you batten down the hatches in time, you are well-equipped to sit out the challenges ahead. Advance preparation is key. At Vistage International, for example, we operate a local, confidential peer group system of non-competing business leaders so that bosses can develop their skills and company strategies on an ongoing monthly basis, building and putting into place robust support structures. With a strong core business and a flexible business plan you are primed to succeed in any climate. 

If chaotic times cause organisational panic attacks within your team, progress could be stopped in its tracks. Keep your people on your side. Ask them: What can I do to help you succeed? This cuts through the outside noise, inspires hope and reduces anxiety. Listen carefully to their answers, be scrupulously honest about what you can and cannot deliver on, and act on your words. Demonstrate your dedication to your team and encourage them to aim for higher levels of achievement. Mutual commitment will result in mutual success. 

Keep innovating! However successful your product or service is, always look for ways to improve it along with new market opportunities. Standing still today might see you left behind tomorrow. 

Tony Price, acting CEO of Vistage International (UK) Ltd, the worlds leading chief executives membership organisation. 


About Vistage

         Global leader in development of Chief Executives since 1957 with over 15,000 members worldwide and a combined turnover of 200bn

         The organisation is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of chief executives.

         On average, members who stay for three years grow their businesses nearly three times as fast after joining

         Operates a local, confidential peer group system of non-competing business leaders to develop business and personal skills on an ongoing monthly basis

         Vistage is committed to helping its members secure a better work-life balance

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