Advice:Growing in the recession

By , published on 25th August 2010

Running a successful business in a recession requires an appreciation of two distinct roles, managing the day to day operations and building for the future. Every business person needs to know the importance of both ‘hats’- and when they are wearing each one.

Some companies do well, both in good times and bad. They not only withstand the onslaught of economic recession, but they emerge stronger and fitter. Unsurprisingly, they also make the right choices when economies are growing.

How do they do it?

Irrespective of the state of the economy, companies which regularly beat the competition have an ingrained ability to do two conflicting things at the same time. They run the day job effectively and efficiently and they make the right choices on how to grow. These require different, conflicting management styles: relentless detailed operational control, as well as having an eye for the main opportunity. Being great at both things is essential to long-term managed success.

Without clear growth management, companies often end up doing the urgent and forgetting the important. This is most true in a recession, when the extra focus on cash drives aggressive cost control and revenue chasing. But while there is a major focus on running the day job, successful companies also know how to build for the future.

Retaining an eye for the opportunity in the good times is relatively easy; keeping it when it gets tough is vastly more difficult.

Two hats

Successful companies operate with two ‘hats’. One hat – the operational hat – focuses on delivering immediate needs, driving revenues, costs and margins to meet cash and profit targets. The focus is on the known – we know what the market is, what customers want, what competitors offer. The other hat – the strategic hat – focuses on growth, driving long term sustainable business that predicts and responds to customer trends and opportunities. Here the management style tends to be openness and analysis of opportunities.

Critically, running the day job and delivering sustainable growth requires that both these different styles of capability and approach co-exist in the same organisation. In essence a successful business must be able to wear these 2 hats comfortably.

The challenge comes when you are a small business and you are the sole owner/director and have the skills & aptitude of one of the ‘hats’ but not necessarily the other- this is when the input of a professional adviser is vital to help give you the perspective of the other ‘hat’.

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Janette Whitney

About Janette Whitney

Janette Whitney is an award-winning business consultant, media columnist and award-winning business author. She specialises in business growth strategies and finance and formed her consultancy business after a highly successful career in banking. Janette’s expertise has won her both national and regional awards which include ‘Consultant of the year’ and ‘Business Book of the Year’ award (as co-author of ‘The Essential Business Guide’).

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