Strategy and Action in Difficult Economic Times

We are living through unprecedented economic challenges. Arguably, never before has there been such an interconnected global economy and never before has there been such a crisis capable of impacting so many.

In recent days, I have spoken to many organizations that have placed expansion and purchases on hold. Leaders from these companies are attempting to stockpile their cash reserves so they can weather this financial storm. For the most part, they would like to retain the professional teams that they have invested in so heavily. At the same time, they would like their staff to continue to be focused, productive and valuable to the organization.

The challenge then is what to do during these times when sales are difficult to come by. Here are a couple of appropriate and meaningful actions to take.

One of the unique opportunities in a difficult economic climate is to perform an intellectual retooling of the business. Specifically, there are several areas to investigate.

First, now would be an excellent time to re-envision the new world that we are entering. Reassessing client needs within the context of the new environment may enable the business to identify new wants and even opportunities. Visiting key clients and collaborating with them will help to forge bonds and strengthen the relationship for any difficult times on the horizon.

Scenario planning is also critical at this juncture. Since we all operate in a competitive environment, it is appropriate to assess how competitors might be reacting to these trends and what steps they will take. Based on this analysis, your business might recognize a different type of opportunity. If the competition is downsizing or jettisoning an not-so-profitable business line, your business might be able to attract rare talent or capitalize on an area that might prove profitable to you.

The next opportunity is to look inward. During a downturn, staff is more open at looking at ways to streamline operations and reduce costs. Re-evaluating processes and the supply chain will allow your business to fortify itself for the inevitable opportunities that will present themselves.

The re-examination that you are undertaking is really a recognition that you control your own destiny.

What other worthwhile efforts that can be undertaken during these difficult times? Please share your thoughts.

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