Times of great upheaval represent a great opportunity for those who would act to get ahead. The right moves to do this are strategically important for your company, and could literally make or break your business.
In my last article, I summarized four key steps to hanging on through the current downturn.
- Protect your strategic advantages.
- Reconsider your channels.
- Ask for what you need.
Instead of focusing on survival, I’ll be looking at the second item today – protecting your key strategic advantages. These include anything that sets you apart from your competition and includes your strategic competency. Strategic competency, as you remember is the thing that differentiates you in a way that your customers find valuable.
As mentioned previously, a couple of strategic opportunities that come up when the economy is bad are marketing and acquisition.
If you have financial flexibility, act, since brand building and acquisitions are at their cheapest when the economy is soft. Some resources that are less expensive in a down economy are real estate, construction, advertising, and equipment (especially second-hand). It’s definitely worth taking a look at any big-ticket spends you might choose to make now. If those big-ticket items are ways to crank up your strategic advantages, now is the time to buy them.
One area where you may also find some excellent strategic opportunities is investing in people with key skills.
Even high-flying companies can end up downsizing in a bad economy. That means some very talented people may be out of work looking for a new position. This may require some creative thinking, since the exact experience you seek may not be available. Bright, creative, hardworking people, however, inevitably become part of the unemployment statistics when things get bad. Don’t be afraid to snap them up, if you can use them in your business.
A third area you may want to examine is intangible assets.
Things like licensing, long-term contracts and outright sale of intellectual property are being considered by struggling companies now. Are there any of these that would bolster your company’s competitive position? In many cases, a company may be struggling because they are trying to use the wrong channels, like retail shops. Their core IP may be valuable and strategically useful in newer channels though, that are less damaged by stay-at-home orders.
Protect your existing advantages.
These are all opportunities you may have to expand your strategic advantages. It’s important to remember to protect your existing advantages, as well though. The most important of these is the people whose skills and knowledge contribute directly to your strategic competency. You not only need to be sure that they are happy, but also that they stay safe and healthy.
Take care of your suppliers.
In addition to people, supplier relationships can come under strain in a bad economy. It’s worth remembering that everyone is working through challenges, which means that issues are more likely to come up now than every before. Be aware that some suppliers may see a dramatic downturn in sales, reduction in resources and need to shed costs. There are, again, strategic opportunities in this, if you can assure a constant stream of business. Help your supplier to shed costs, or even hire some of their people (even temporarily). Being a hero to a supplier can be a great way to cement real advantages.
Take care of your customers.
Of course, customers may be facing challenges just as suppliers are. You’ll gain a lot of traction with those customers for anything you can do to help them survive. This can be risky in the case of things like extending credit. I’ve had some clients build their customer relationships by helping restaurants convert their menu offerings to take-out and delivery. Furthermore, they’ve helped customize product and marketing, so they can be used for online sales.
This may be the perfect time for strategic planning.
If your business is seeing a downturn in demand, now is also a good time to spend time on things that will build you up strategically. Revamping your facilities, moving to a new plant and even strategic planning are activities that you may feel you haven’t had time for – and now may be the perfect time.
If you’d like to use Simplified Strategic Planning to create a plan that will lead to success, consider attending our next Simplified Strategic Planning seminar. Like most people, you’d benefit from having an experienced professional lead you through the strategic planning process. Then you can focus on the content of your strategies. If you’d like to explore how you could do this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Center for Simplified Strategic Planning professionals have successfully conducted thousands of strategic planning meetings. Furthermore, they understand how to best use your planning time. Consider holding a one-day workshop on Simplified Strategic Planning in the next few months to improve your results.
© Copyright 2020 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission