Prepared by the CFO – Moving from Defence to Offence
Politicians and even banks are talking about the green shoots of recovery. Is this wishful thinking on their part? It is fair to say that many of our clients have now become acclimatised to the current economic climate and are no longer just waiting for good times to return. There is a realisation that it is going to be much harder to make the same amount of money as it was 2 years ago and the risk of further shocks to the business are far greater. Many businesses have downsized and many have rationalised their product or service offerings to suit changing demand patterns.
At a recent workshop with prospective clients, one of the participants said “I am one of the lucky ones to have survived this recession and I am proud of the fact that my business is stronger in terms of its experience, but what should I do now?” Well the race continues, only the horizon changes. If you had a long term business plan 2 years ago it’s time to brush this off and have another read. You will probably find that not much has changed in the plan. Internally, the biggest change is in your heart and your head. You should be proud of your business in the way it has weathered the storm and continues to do so and pleased with yourself personally for navigating your ship and its crew through the storm. Externally the biggest difference is that there are far more business opportunities around at much more affordable prices:-
- If you were previously considering employing an operations director, these people will now be available in the market.
- If marketing the company in the mass media was too expensive previously, media has never been so cheap.
- If you are a retailer, expanding into new locations has never been more affordable.
- If you are a successful restauranteur or own other types of leisure facilities, there will be other businesses with good locations but poor management that are ripe for acquisition.
The real issue is how to choose the opportunities that are right for you. The answer is in your long term plan. If these opportunities are part of your growth strategy then the opportunity to exploit them when the cost is at its lowest, should not be missed. Obviously you must consider the risks and also whether the business can afford the investment before deciding whether to proceed.
It is always worth reminding yourself of the definition of an entrepreneur: “a person with the ability to recognise opportunities of benefit to an enterprise and the will and capacity to undertake appropriate innovative action while accepting the associated risks”.