Business strategies to better face economic uncertainty

20 January 2020 5 min. read
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Economists are forecasting that there is a recession on the horizon. The economy can’t be projected entirely on suspicion, particularly at a time of uncertainty surrounding the future of Brexit. However, when dissecting the events leading up to the financial crash of 2008, according to David Blanchflower, former member of the Bank of England’s committee for interest rate setting), similarities are occurring.

Regardless of the size and industry of your business, it’s important to introduce measures to protect it against a potentially turbulent financial future.

Will there be a recession?

A flagship report by the UN has warned that weak growth in both first world and developing countries has paved the way for an international recession this year. Factors such as trade wars, currency fluctuations, and Brexit are all amounting to an uncertain global economy. According to the Unctad report, “global growth will fall from 3% in 2018 to 2.3% this year – its weakest since the 1.7% contraction in 2009”.

Because of this global strain on economy, we are expected to encounter rising levels of debt (in both developing and advanced countries), as well as a “global downturn that could increase unemployment and inequality” (as stated by Kristalina Georgieva of the International Monetary Fund). Redundancies and a decline in job vacancies on an international basis are expected to follow such a crash, with unemployment rates increasing at an alarming rate.

Is a recession on the horizon?

Will it affect the UK?

It’s inevitable that the UK’s economy will be damaged. The US trade war with China has caused a larger drag on global growth than anticipated, and the UK will be on the receiving end of the economic repercussions. What’s more, the looming prospect of Brexit poses different threats to the UK’s economy. At best, the uncertainty caused by Brexit has created a hesitant consumer base in the UK. Customers are spending less and are more cautious of businesses than ever. It is a difficult time to maintain customer loyalty, as would-be consumers are tightening their purses in the fear of a looming financial disaster.

If the UK got a no-deal Brexit, things would be worse. According to expert forecasts from Andrew Sentence and David Blanchflower, leaving the EU with no deal would’ve plunged the UK into its first recession in a decade. Boris Johnson’s deal might negate this threat, but after the transition period (which will last around a year), we could still end up in a no deal situation if a free trade agreement isn’t decided. Again, it is difficult to predict the exact financial repercussions of a deal, or a no-deal, Brexit. Expert speculations have ranged from optimistic to dire, but it is important for business owners to prepare for the worst nonetheless.

How can I prepare my business?

There are strategies you can implement to prepare your business for a recession. Businesses that prepare for every eventuality are the ones that survive and thrive in the face of adversity. Leaving it too late to implement a recession strategy could be your undoing, so get ahead of the game and prepare for a post-Brexit Britain.

Here are some key strategies that will help your business face economic uncertainty:

Put some adjacency and extension strategies in motion – a recession is not the time to start looking into completely new avenues of profit. However, you can’t let your services become stagnant. Adjacency strategy is the optimum solution to this – find an area adjacent to your core product or services to expand into. Extension strategy is similar: take your current service a little further and offer new and exciting opportunities or products to existing customers. Ensure that you have a flexed forecast so that the business is fully prepared for all possible outcomes of this new strategy.

Don’t sacrifice your marketing budget – often, brands make cuts to their marketing budgets in response to financial anxiety. However, this will spell disaster for your company. There is no time more crucial to maintain your marketing efforts and show customers that your brand is tackling the recession and winning. 

Focus on your existing customers – as we have discussed, consumers aren’t spending as much due to lack of trust and growing apprehension. Because of this, it is essential that you focus on your existing customer base during testing financial times. This will increase brand loyalty and grow customer confidence. Offer them benefits and reasons to stay true to your brand.

Don’t be afraid to outsource – outsourcing key elements of your business can save you time, money, and financial anxiety during a recession. Outsourcing your accounts department may allow you create scale and flexibility within your organisation.

Forge some powerful alliances – mergers, acquisitions, and alliances are all key strategies during a recession. Alliances offer a great way to expand your business without investing in anything completely new during times of uncertainty.

Reduce inventory costs – look to see if your business has the leeway to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of the services or products it provides. This will help to take the pressure off your finances.

Tighten up on your corporate governance – companies that see a downturn in performance are more likely to survive if they have good corporate governance embedded into their culture. Part of this is ensuring that the company has had a financial audit.

An article by Wisteria, a London-based provider of specialist accountancy and tax advisory services.