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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Brownoff

The Silver-lining of Uncertainty... for Small Business

Over the past few years the world has seen an exceptional amount of change. With major shifts in global leadership, there is a marked level of uncertainty at all levels of society across the globe. Along with global trade agreements up in the air, fluctuating world oil prices and polarized political positions, Canadian businesses have been challenged with recruiting and retaining high-quality employees, attracting and maintaining a loyal customer base, sustaining profitable results while adapting to changes in technology.

Later today, Canada will have democratically chosen the political party charged with the responsibility of governing the country. Whatever the outcome, there will be as many people cheering joyfully as there will be people throwing up their hands in disgust. Whichever side you find yourself you will likely be looking down another uncertain road.

What does this mean if you are a business owner?

Over the years I have heard from various business owners regarding their views on business survival in Canada. Their comments have been surprisingly diverse- considering they all are in similar situations while experiencing the same global uncertainties. Some businesses seem to make inroads regardless of the unforgiving business landscape, while an unsettling number of owners throw their hands up in despair and lament that the world (economy, government leaders, technology ...) will be the ruin of their business.

Why do some businesses thrive while others crumble when faced with uncertainty?

Upon close examination. the reasons are rarely based on the amount of education one group has and it certainly not because of luck either.

The owners of thriving businesses do however:

  • Reach beyond their comfort zone and strive to improve their business’s position regardless of the global or local situation.Less fear, more action.

  • Embrace change head on, formulating effective plans for the various scenarios, minimizing negative impact when decisions are out of their control.

  • Create opportunities when uncertainty surrounds them, taking advantage of the things they can control.

  • Avoid wasting time and energy on blaming others, but take that energy back to their teams to develop a plan to get them past obstacles.

  • Embrace technology and use it to advance their people and their industry position

3 Important Tips from Successful Business Owners in Uncertain Times

  1. Don’t Panic- Breathe. Gather facts and eliminate fear. Take a closer look at the change and ask yourself, how does this change impact my business and, how can my business address this change?

  2. Review your processes. Evaluate what is working and what is not. No successful business can continue doing things the same way over time. Uncertainty makes you sit up and take notice. Tip: Embrace technology to help your business be more profitable and customer centred. Use it to help prioritize your business' needs.

  3. Develop your leadership skills. This is the time you need to show what you are really made of. This is where you will define your character and be evaluated as to whether you are a leader worth following. Keeping your head and your team focused will be the most important thing you can do to ensure your business moves with the changing business terrain. Keep a close eye on the important numbers for your business and avoid knee-jerk reactions to protect the bottom line. Avoid the temptation to cut staff and slash prices. While you are looking at ways to be more productive, consider cost saving options such as reducing building size by having staff work from home and subleasing space. Being creative in challenging times will strengthen your leadership credentials.

A.C.T.I.O.N. Take aways:

Uncertainty is a major part of our business landscape. The world is changing and that is the constant. The silver-lining is that it forces us to stand-up and take notice, to have an opinion and stay involved. To take responsibility and choose impactful action because going with the flow is not an option.

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