Surviving in challenging times

By: Olivier Barbeau – regular contributor

On a daily basis, I deal with businesses experiencing four key challenges: liquidity; cost; risk, and growth. How does one deal with these?

Dealing with these challenges is crucial to success – and the real winners are likely to be the people who make tough decisions now, deal with difficult issues today, but are thinking ahead to the opportunities tomorrow.

Regardless of your industry, there is one theme that is true of every business: Change happens. And often, it comes in ways that you can’t foresee.

Irrespective of the size and nature of your business, you will always have to react to outward forces on your business – political interference, volatile exchange rates, labour unrest and changes in technology.

The manner in which you react to and anticipate these changes will ultimately determine the long-term success of your business.

Given the uncertainty that we continue to face, I thought I’d share these five lessons.

1. Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Make sure that you have the right people on the bus. One of the smartest things you can do to be prepared for any change is to ensure you have the right team. To keep that team for the long term and ensure it’s ready when faced with a challenge, you need to instil a culture in which every employee feels respected and empowered to do the right thing for their part of the business. This comes from regular communication where you and your executive team are open and honest with good and bad news. By placing the utmost value on your people, your company will be prepared for any challenge and emerge as a key player in your industry.

Regardless of the obstacles you face as a company, whether anticipated or not, sticking to your core principles with an eye toward long-term goals will ultimately pay off. Companies that encounter unforeseen challenges, new competitors and shifting market conditions will succeed if they have built a great team and allow that team to adapt with the market.

2. Be prepared to look at things in new ways
The seven most deadly words in business is: “But we’ve always done it that way…” Just because something has worked in the past does not mean it will work in the future. It’s great to have a plan in place based on your past experiences; but understand there is no single blueprint for a company, and be willing to consider alternative approaches.

Read more about this feature in Plumbing Africa April 2015 page 26.

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