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Strategic Planning In Times Of Uncertainty

One external market change can destroy a business, but only if you don't know how to benefit from it

28Feb

Let's face it, many leaders need to learn how to run a business all over again, as today's environment where disruption is essentially around every corner, is intimidating. For many years, a golden business rule has been an ability to draw a distinctive line between a business operation and politics, but in the light of recent global events, many can't help it and are forced to adjust to the new political climate. Additionally, focusing on initiatives critical to a company's health is becoming increasingly difficult, because a big chunk of time often goes to mastering risk management skills due to the hyper-competitive environment. In the end, there is often no room for a thorough strategic planning, but a lot of space for panic.

A fear of losing it all due to one poorly planned decision is understandable, but it starts to prevail in an increasing number of cases, which is a warning sign. So can you execute growth opportunities whilst staying alert in times of global uncertainty?

Don't fight a change, work with it

A change in the business environment can be destructive or it can work to your advantage - it all depends on how you look at it and use it. For example, when Facebook appeared and became one of the pioneers of the social media revolution, some treated it as an opportunity, others tried to ignore innovation and didn't believe in the long-lasting success of it. A handful of those who spotted the opportunity managed to deploy innovative ideas whilst the market was new, and as a result, they succeeded. As any successful entry in the market is capable of reshaping the industry and consumers to some extent, you can ignore the success of the new company, but you shouldn't ignore the changes this company creates in the market. So, don't fight it, instead, analyze and make the most of it.

Looking At Universal Trends

Today, forecasting and market analysis may be difficult to perform thanks to so many emerging trends and policies that are often hard to predict with reliable levels of accuracy. In cases like this, the worst action is to stand still and wait for uncertain times to pass. No one can ever guarantee a risk-free market, so if there are constant changes, learn as much as you can about them and their cause.

We can also look at specific trends that are at the foundation of why specific things are happening. For instance, we know that millennials now make up the largest proportion of the US working population. We also know that this group has unique characteristics, such as being tech-savvy and embracing the sharing economy boom.

We should also acknowledge that businesses are shifting towards digitization to increase productivity and minimize operational costs. Thanks to increased connectivity and advances in technology, there is a visible trend of launching digital and software services and products, which again, allow for minimal setup costs but maximum revenue.

Additionally, we know that investments are increasingly moving towards the IoT and AI sectors, with the automotive industry, in particular, becoming more sustainable and connected. These are just a few examples of innovations that are likely to affect us in the near future.

Big innovations tend to create a chain of sub-opportunities around them, like gaps which can be filled. So as important as it is to look out for what's new in the market, it is also critical to analyze what these opportunities create and how to benefit from them.

Uncertainty Can Be A Call For Action

Whether it's ground-breaking technological advancements, economic instability, or political reforms that disrupt the natural flow of the business operation, learn how to make the current market environment fit your business vision.

In many cases, once a company detects an incoming disruptive event (in whatever form it takes), they tend to choose a sensible approach where they can mitigate risk within their business strategy. However, these companies often end up in a situation where they are only just managing to get through difficult times. These try to keep changes to the business model to a minimum and often resorting to cost cutting and redundancies to stay afloat without changing their model.

Many tend to ignore that the passive approach is more likely to see a company negatively impacted by external circumstances. When predicting future market trends gets tough, it may be the right time to unleash creativity.

Market uncertainty can be dangerous, but at the same time, there is nothing better than capitalizing on a company's ability to spot hidden opportunities. These companies can use the uncertainty to differentiate themselves from competitors, grow fast, but most importantly, ease the fear of the unknown.

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