13 Feb 2023

Preparing your business for the year ahead

There is no denying that we are in a period laced with financial uncertainty. Unrest in China, the war in Ukraine, rising fuel costs and longer lead times for supply chains paint a stormy picture. And with wage pressure seemingly the next issue on the docket – as substantial chunks of the public sector strike – there are bound to be knock-on implications in recruitment.

But far from being a reason to panic, this is instead the time to grab hold of the handlebars, ensure that you are in control of your organisation’s cashflow and operations, and that every process is watertight. You may already have a solid grasp of the inner workings of your business, but there is no harm in reasserting this. Being over prepared is only going to fill you with a greater sense of reassurance and an improved ability to weather adversity.

It’s also worth remembering that there are tools and technologies designed to help. No one is expecting you to be an expert of all things, so make use of the resources at your disposal, whether that be reading online guides, speaking to other business leaders or chatting through your options with a business advisor. It can be easy to feel that you don’t have enough time or headspace to embrace a new process, but the return on investment on automated tools, for example, is undisputed. Plus, you might be surprised by how straight forward new software is to install, not to mention the priceless peace of mind it can bring.

When it comes to your business, ignorance is in fact not bliss. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of all elements, positive and negative, is only going to add to your feeling of control. So, with that in mind, what should businesses be doing to prepare for the year ahead?

Take heed of the job market
In this post-covid world, priorities have shifted, which has impacted recruitment trends and increased pressure on offering competitive salaries and extensive employee benefits. Flexible working has become an expectation instead of a preference. Many chose to pursue an early retirement when the pandemic hit, and others have taken this opportunity to join the gig economy. The point is times are changing, and ignoring what candidates want during this period will be at an employer’s own peril. Tune into what’s happening in your market via industry research, reports, social media or simply by speaking to your workforce. You may not be able to address every request but having a good sense of what people are seeking will help to inform your recruitment strategy, employee offering and ultimately help to future proof your talent pipeline.

Stay flexible
Uncertain times call for adaptable businesses who are willing and able to make quick decisions. Admittedly, government processes aren’t always structured to prioritise efficiency and clarity but that doesn’t stop you from being as prepared as possible. There are so many moving parts within a business, that something is bound to go awry at some point. It’s the nature of the beast and it’s how you deal with it that counts. Think about it the same way as a driving test, you won’t fail the exam simply for stalling the car, you’re instead judged on how you respond to the error and whether you remain in control of the vehicle. You may be required to make quick decisions on swapping suppliers, hiring talent or informing stakeholders, all of which can have a big impact on your business operations, but having real-time information under your belt will improve your ability to respond to any issues pragmatically.

None of the best practices that we have mentioned previously, such as the power of cashflow management, managing your financial risk via effective credit control and regularly checking that your procedures are fit for purpose have changed, nor have they lost their clout. In fact, focusing on the financial management basics will now be more important than ever. Use forecasting to plan ahead, review your policies and supply chains regularly to see if there is a better option and familiarise yourself with the technology and applications that may not have been around when you launched – or in the last year for that matter. Instead of using a spreadsheet to keep track of invoices, and only checking in every quarter, you could instead achieve the same result at the click of a button and be alerted at the first whiff of an anomaly. It’s always worth exploring your options.

Encourage resilience thinking
Resilience isn’t just a buzzword to be conjured up by the senior leadership team and instructed to employees, it should be sewn into the fabric of your organisation by nurturing resilient thinking across your workforce. Communication with your employees is paramount, after all they are your greatest asset and should be treated as such. Making sure that they are made aware of the business’s short- and long-term goals, along with any challenges it may be facing, will help to ensure that you are all pulling in the same direction. Taking the time to gather opinions and address concerns will also demonstrate how much you value them as individuals.

Fostering resilience shouldn’t mean battening down the hatches and shutting down new ideas. Instead, you should be encouraging innovation and unique approaches within your teams– they will likely have an alternative perspective and may point out solutions that you’ve missed. A workforce with a ‘can do’ attitude is bound to be a more productive, successful and resilient one, and giving employees the opportunities to impact the way the business is run will be an appealing prospect to potential candidates.

Uncertain times do not necessarily spell out doom and gloom, instead treat this period as a prompt for making the changes that would be beneficial to implement anyway, recession or not.

And don’t forget, you’re not alone, our friendly, approachable experts have helped hundreds of businesses facing the same challenges that you are. They can not only provide practical advice but also aim to empower you with the tools and knowledge needed to take the reins yourself. Get in touch today.

Fiona Westwood