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Western Canada is seeing the economy improve and that’s presenting business owners with a range of new options and opportunities. Deciding on the best course can only be done effectively with an up-to-date strategic plan that reflects the current business environment you are in. In the eastern part of the country, things have stabilized and businesses need to step back, take a look at where they are, and strategically plan for the future. Regardless of what’s happening with the economy in your part of the country, a current, relevant and flexible strategic plan is key to your business’s success.
It’s important to be strategic when faced with a growing or shrinking economy, since both environments can create new opportunities as well as challenges. It’s also important to ensure that you are not working with an outdated road map for your business. Planning done in the past may not be relevant in your marketplace.
Here’s your 8-point plan for refocusing to ensure your operation thrives and that you take advantage of emerging opportunities at the right time.
It’s a new world and your previous plans may not be feasible—or even desirable—today. Business planning allows you to focus on the key areas of your business such as the production mix, staff requirements and management functions.
Before considering going after new customers, make sure yours are happy. Find out where they come from and consider how you can better use referral sources. Get creative when thinking of ways to ensure their satisfaction.
Weaker competitors may have left and some of the stronger competitors have changed their business strategies. Find out what products are being offered and who your competitors’ customers are and use the information to reassess your own strategy.
A balance sheet with soft numbers such as deferred expenses and intangibles, or aggressive accounting policies to manage income, may make your business harder to manage in any economic environment.
Changing the timing of billing and collection processes by just a few days can make a big difference and help you ensure you have the cash you need to take advantage of opportunities. Look at all your options, such as eliminating unprofitable product lines.
Invest in the right people in the right positions so you have a strong efficient team moving forward. If people know and understand their roles in the organization you’ll be ready to take on new work.
Financing is still tight in many markets. That can constrain growth when expansion opportunities arise. Keep your bankers up to date and be proactive if you’re experiencing problems.
You have to react to what happens in the external economy. But with a plan in place, you always have a roadmap so that, when there are bumps in the road, you are able to steer around them and get back on course.
This article was featured in the June issue of PROFIT Magazine.
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