How to make your business successful in uncertain times

SMEs and new business owners are feeling the pinch in the current economic conditions. But there are opportunities for those who dare to strike out a bit, writes Steph King

The economic conditions in the UK are currently unfavourable, and are predicted to remain so for some time to come. If you’re wondering not only how to survive, but also how to make your business competitive and successful, you’re not alone.

A conglomeration of political and economic events, from disastrous government budgets to rising overheads have created something of a hostile atmosphere for newer and growing businesses. All while established businesses hunker down for a period of stagnated consumer activity.

As a newer business, you will naturally be concerned about longevity. Remaining competitive in such circumstances can be hard, but is not impossible; in what ways could you remain competitive?

Implement automated technologies

Are you looking at AI? Because you probably should be. Adopting new technologies of any kind can be costly, which often leads businesses to shy away from investing in favour of staying the course. But this is a patently uncompetitive move and one that can work to the detriment of newer and growing businesses. In battening down the hatches and scaling back operations, rather than investing in new technology, businesses risk allowing more agile competitors to take valuable space within the market.

New technologies revolving around automation are particularly hot property at the moment, in that they grant businesses the opportunity to streamline their own processes without engendering longer-term costs. Automated systems have existed for generations, but new leaps in machine learning have given rise to AI software that can capably handle more complex tasks.

Initial costs might include counsel with a technology lawyer to ensure compliance in implementation and rollout, as well as investment in infrastructure, to support the new technology – but the long-term benefits significantly outweigh these initial costs. More manpower can be diverted to crucial and creative processes, while AI handles administrative work, analytics and even basic outreach.

Utilise digital marketing

Speaking of analytics and outreach, any business not actively engaging with digital marketing in today’s world is likely doomed to failure. This is just as true, if not truer, in times of economic crisis. When consumer spending is trending downwards, it is much harder to win new customers over – making competition more expensive overall.

But the right digital marketing strategies can be weaponised to continue winning new customers, while other competitors are relying on their core customer base to weather the recessive period. Digital marketing activities, whether engaging influencers on social media or doubling down on email strategies are much cheaper than other traditional marketing avenues – and often boast a much higher ROI.

Read: How to create a great CV when you’re over 50

Optimise business operations

Ah, cashflow. Finally, it is important to address the elephant in the room: cost. Spending money is unavoidable when it comes to staying competitive. And, while it is easy enough to say that short-term expenditure benefits businesses in the long term, the short-term cash may simply not be in the budget.

This is where optimisation comes in. By effectively addressing your business operations and identifying areas for improvement, you can seek to cut down on operating costs – thus expanding your budget for more competitive, growth-friendly expenditure. When was the last time you looked properly at your expenditure, or made a calculated forecast?

Research for more information about integrating tech, or just some advice from the experts. And stay on board.

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