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8 essential elements your business needs to get through tough times

Does your business have a strategy that's translatable and able to pivot when required, to accommodate unforeseen adversities like an economic downturn?

Several years ago, Larry Myler reported in Forbes that less than 10% of organisations successfully execute strategy, and that only around 14% of employees fully understand company strategy. If we add to this the 67% of start-ups that failed out of 26,000, as recorded by Terri Zwierzynski of Solo-E.com, a consistent theme of ill-equipped, at times absent business strategy becomes apparent.

While it's essential to have a foundational business strategy that alludes to business success, including customer expansion and commercial growth, it's even more pivotal to have a plan in place that both mitigates risks and factors in unavoidable hardships. In addition to financial crises within the marketplace, negative situations could include an unexpected drop in product demand, a significant hike in interest rates, and/or an exponential boom in same-service competitors.

To adequately address and continue to operate throughout the good business times as well as the bad, below are primary pointers to consider when devising your organisational strategy:

1. Be Prepared: Factoring in a broad range of market scenarios, particularly economic, within your business plan will help keep you focused and ready to tackle all manner of events.

2. Be Efficient: Methodically analyse where your business could cut costs now and in the future, without affecting your competitiveness. For example, is there a product line that's less popular?

3. Be Conservative: Prioritise projects and investments that are most likely to generate income sooner rather than later, and consider preserving a certain proportion of profits as they flow in.

4. Be Wide-Eyed: Monitor the financial health of your partners, vendors and other commercial allies, and have reinforcements in place in case any of these revenue-generators stumble or fall.

5. Be Future Focused: Keep your professional focus on the long term as well as the short, and adjust your strategy as market dynamics alter – consider a specific team for this purpose.

6. Be A Leader: Initiate honest and proactive communications with all staff as part of your business plan – during the harder times, such interactions will be essential to maintain a positive culture.

7. Be a Builder: As tempting as it is to cut back when business is booming, continue constructing brand marketing campaigns – keep track of your market position to keep yourself cutting-edge.

8. Be Opportunistic: Don't be hesitant to make change where a prospect has been identified or to accommodate a shift in trends – today's marketplace is continually shifting, so move with it.

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