Navigating uncertainty: Key considerations for your business

According to the Office of National Statistics the UK is now officially in recession. Recession is defined as a fall in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in two consecutive months.

Is it all doom and gloom?

Well, no. GDP across the whole of 2023 was up slightly (0.1% across the years) and the forecast in the Spring Budget issued on 6th March was for falling inflation and improved growth.

When looking at the economy as a whole, there are several other factors to take into account but, unfortunately, the “recession” word quickly takes hold in news headlines and brings apprehension and uncertainty with it.

In the small business world, uncertainty can be the biggest challenge because it makes customers hesitate and that, in turn, impacts the bottom line.

Here then, are some key things for businesses to look at when navigating the onset of a recession and the uncertainty of the UK economy.

Financial resilience

How are your current business finances? Are there any actions you can take to strengthen cash reserves and reduce unnecessary expenses? Or ways you could diversify your income sources to avoid being overly reliant on 1 or 2 major customers?

A good cashflow forecasts will help you see if you can predict where a potential downturn in income might come. Based on this, you may be able to make some contingency plans or time payments on essential expenditure, so you don’t leave yourself short at the wrong time.

Analyse your customers’ behaviour

During economic downturns, spending behaviours often change. Customers continue to spend on essentials, but anything seen as non-essential or non-urgent is put on the back burner.

How will this affect how your customers buy from you? Will you lose sales? Or might the time it takes to close a slae take longer than usual?

Consider ways to tailor your marketing strategy or the products or services you offer your customers so that they appeal to their current needs and price sensitivities.

Review your supply chain

It’s a good time to evaluate the resilience of your supply chain. Do you have key suppliers that may struggle with a down-turn? And what is your backup plan if they don’t survive? On the other hand, if you are in a relatively strong financial position, now might be a good time to support a trusted supplier – even simple things like paying your bills a little earlier can make a difference if they are finding things hard. If you treat them well, it should pay you back in better service and loyalty or even some special discounts.

Strengthening your relationships with key suppliers and maintaining open communication with them can also help you to anticipate and address potential challenges. Just remember – we’re all in this together!

Nurture staff morale

This is crucial!  Your team can also become anxious in an economic downturn, and this can easily affect morale and productivity. Many will be looking around to see if there are other jobs – so what can you do to retain talented people? Can you offer flexible work arrangements, skill development programs or performance incentives so they feel valued.

And don’t forget to tap into that talent. Your team may also have good ideas that will help your business to adapt. Spending time talking with them and giving them the authority to contribute innovative solutions can provide you with a very valuable resource.

Strategic investments

While there are uncertainties in an economic downturn, there are usually also opportunities. It can be well worth exploring investment opportunities if you are able to do so.

Look for undervalued assets or potential mergers or acquisitions that can be done for a reduced price. You may be able to capitalise on the downturn to buy assets at a favourable price and position your business for long-term growth.

Government assistance

Take the time to research what government assistance programs are available. There may be grants, tax relief measures, policy changes or assisted loan schemes supported by the Government.

Often, during a recession, the government will implement new schemes, so keep an ear open for anything that may be relevant for you and your business. and additional ones may be added to support business continuity through a recession.

Long-term vision and a positive attitude

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking when times are tough but doing so can stifle your ability to successfully adapt to change. The UK may be in recession but that doesn’t not necessarily mean your business can’t grow and do well. Keeping a positive attitude will allow you to see the opportunities you have available to you and give you the drive to see them through.

Navigating through uncertainty takes good planning and adaptability. But by taking proactive steps and seeking out the opportunities means your business can not only weather the economic downturn but also emerge stronger and more competitive in the long run.

We are here to support you during tough times. Get in touch with us to discuss how we can help.

Fiona Grant-Jones

As a Management Accountant, I have a proactive focus on the future. I enjoy working with business owners to improve performance through management accounting and forecasting techniques. My knowledge of Tax and Tax planning has supported me in offering a more complete service to our clients. My interests span from the ones that my mother approves of, such as needlecraft and papercraft to the ones she is not so keen on such as scuba diving and skiing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment