Being prepared and using business intelligence to your advantage is the best way to stay competitive in uncertain times. Whether it is financial trends in the global market, industry regulations, or political forces you are worried about, you will need to take precautions to avoid going down when disaster hits. When there is a shift in your market, you will need to be among the first people to know about it. If your competitor is launching a new product, you need to know exactly how this will impact the future of your business. Below you will learn a few things that you can do to stay competitive and profitable in uncertain times.
Know Your Customer
The first thing you need to do is know what your customers want. No matter which industry you are in, it is important that you identify the people who are the most likely to buy from you and become raving fans. If you haven’t done a research of your niche yet, it might be a good idea to create a profile for all your ideal clients. It might also be a good idea to tailor your products or services to their needs; find out what they are looking for; what are their main aspirations; why they would choose you and not your competitors; and, what makes them tick. If you can align your values with your potential customers’, you will have a better chance of talking directly to them through your marketing and corporate communication.
Knowledge is power. Business intelligence will help you understand how the trends are going to impact your business. Understanding trends will enable you to assess the risks and identify the possible outcomes. It is crucial that you have the full picture of how you are doing; how profitable your business is; and, how you can make changes to reduce the risks. Minimize the effects of uncertainty in your marketplace or industry by getting rid of some product lines; reducing your costs; improving your profitability; and, getting ahead of your competition so you can maintain your market share.
It might not be a smart idea to make investments in times of uncertainty. In most cases, you can invest in process improvement and business intelligence that will help you stay on top of your market research and stay competitive. Just imagine that a cheaper supplier enters a market from another country and you need to step up your game. Be mindful of instances when your competition will increase. From there you can create a plan for continuous improvement so you can survive the changes without losing customers.
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One of the things you will certainly have to focus on to stay competitive is reducing your costs. As with price wars, you will need to be prepared for other companies to go below your prices when they launch. They will be prepared to put up with negative profits just to take away your market share. In turn you will need to be prepared and come up with a plan. It might be reducing your costs and improving the value you provide to your customers. Both are good measures of surviving uncertain times.
Familiarize yourself with Lean principles. It might be time to make the most of your resources and measure the waste at every stage of your service delivery or production. A lean organization will maximize its ability to create value and reduce the waste of time, resources, and knowledge. No matter if you would like to improve communication and collaboration at the workplace to reduce waiting time, or eliminate bottlenecks in your production line, you will certainly be able to improve your productivity and profits.
Finding Your USP
The best approach to surviving uncertainty and extreme competition is finding a way for your business to stand out and set itself apart from the competitors. Finding your unique selling proposition is something you should do as soon as you start your business, but it will change as you grow and you start improving your products or services or enter new markets. Once you realize that there are uncertain times ahead, you should rethink your market strategy and find a way to differentiate your brand. There are several ways you can do this based on quality, price, service, design, etc.
When your running costs are simply not covered by your operating income, it might be time to think about outsourcing. You will need to find a way to cut your costs without compromising the quality of product or service. You can find agencies that will do the job for less than it would cost you to pay your own employees. When it comes to outsourcing, you will need to focus on specialized areas that you will need to employ an expert for as well as low grade admin jobs that can be handled outside of your company. It is, however, crucial that you do your research and read the reviews of the company you are using.
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When business is up and down, you will need to make the most out of your capacity planning. You should make the most out of business prediction tools and adjust your human resources strategy accordingly. You have to find a way to predict demand and plan your operation accordingly. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on overtime and weekend work if you don’t really have to, increasing your human resource costs. If you know that there will be a quiet period in your business, you can offer your employees a paid leave or hire them out to other companies in the industry.
Financial planning is extremely important when it comes to uncertain markets. If you don’t have an accounting tool that allows you to see a snapshot of your accounts at any time, this might be the time to invest in one. You can get bookkeeping and accounting software for a couple of dollars a month that will tell you which expenses could be reduced; where you can improve your accounting; and, how much money is likely to come in in the next few days. This way, you don’t end up overspending and committing to investments you can’t afford.
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It is important that you do your market research when it comes to uncertainty. There might be some changes in your customer market that you can use to create a new product or service or offer more value. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, it will be hard for you to come up with a strategy to survive the turmoil. If you don’t have experts in your company to complete the research, you can subscribe to industry and government reports and white papers that will help you determine the best direction for your business.
People often say that when one door closes, another one opens. This is true to the business world. Several companies have turned around their model by shifting their focus, exploring new markets, or spotting opportunities early. If you have the business intelligence at hand, you will be able to see what you can do to tap into new markets, win back customers, or increase loyalty. Take advantage of expert advice and insider reports, market predictions, and you can be fully prepared when the changes happen. If you are focused on the problem, you will fail to spot the opportunities.
Keeping Your Staff Engaged
Your staff might feel uneasy and insecure at times of uncertainty and market shifts. It is crucial that you listen to their concerns and help them make the most out of their knowledge and productivity. If they feel valued and respected, and you communicate with them regularly, they are more likely to stay and stick it out instead of jumping ships. Keeping your employees is important. It will allow you to save money on human resources and training long term and have consistency in your business. You can create a workplace wellness plan to engage with your employees better.
It is crucial that you make business decisions based on thorough research. Growing your business might be one of your top priorities, but you will need to make sure you are not stretching too far. To create sustainable growth in your company, you will need to assess your market position, your financial situation, and the short term and long term investment needed to pursue a growth strategy. Entering new markets at uncertain times might be too much of a risk unless you have the funds readily available without the need of raising finance.
Managing your growth and maintaining a competitive advantage at uncertain times can be challenging for businesses. You need to know the trends, your customers, and your numbers, and keep an eye on your market, so you can make smart business decisions that will help you survive industry turmoils.
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