With Australia in a recession, most businesses are dealing with a range of unexpected challenges, but founder of the national Certainty Advice Group says that the retail industry has a chance to re-focus on what matters at this time.
The national Certainty Advice Group advisers say there are a number of basic steps retailers are taking to navigate through the crisis.
Founder of the group, Jim Stackpool, says retail businesses need to be more resilient than other industries which can more easily adapt using digital technology to maintain their client and team work in these times.
He says the economic turmoil makes it imperative to review what’s important and re-assess long-term plans for the business and personal lives. The following is a summary of some of the general strategic guidance Certainty Advisers are providing to clients dealing with the current challenges.
1. Don’t panic
“The catch phrase at the moment is to ‘pivot’ your business. But it can be fatal to change direction as a result of the current turmoil, particularly if it’s inconsistent with the strengths, direction and core values of your business before,” Stackpool says.
Advisers are helping their retail clients in these times with crucial conversations that are similar to the military’s observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) approach used to make plans when the stakes and emotions are high and the options are many.
“Panic is the opposite to observing. Observing is when our advisers help clients take in everything impacting their situation. Orient is when they add meaning to everything observed.
“Support like this helps businesses form short and long-term alternatives. Once alternatives are identified, our advisers provide the structure, accountability and follow-up. The last part of OODA is to act. This can be the hardest part because so many businesses hesitate hoping to find better new alternatives. This often makes situations worse rather than better.
“The timing for many of these changes was just brought forward due to the lockdowns which for some created the opportunity to bring their plans forward.”
2. Revisit what’s most important personally
Stackpool says it’s tempting to throw out pre-existing plans when revenue and profits take a nosedive and the future is uncertain.
“Before you make any sweeping changes and big decisions, revisit what’s most important to you personally and professionally. When retail owners feel like their working life is going from bad to worse, it’s doesn’t seem the best time to sit back and determine priorities. Unfortunately, if they don’t set their own priorities, they will be more likely to react to everyone else’s. This can lead to businesses going around in smaller circles of frenzied activity not working towards what is important to them.
“Our advisers have had some very confronting but productive discussions as issues that have needed attention get voiced and addressed however tough.”
3. Get help
“It helps to get another perspective. In challenging times we can magnify our potential losses or raise doubts about our ability to progress. In these moments, objectivity is often needed for effective path-finding to the next steps. So too is the accountability by a trusted third-party.”
4. Be aware of the ‘overlap’
“For business owners, it’s more important than ever to correctly manage what we call the overlap between your business and personal plans.
“Tough decisions will need to be made in one or more aspects of business and life. Understanding what each aspect needs, and purposefully prioritising between the two will ensure you are building a future that ticks goals on your family and business lives, rather than just one of them to the detriment of the other.
“These are not easy times but retail business owners are naturally resilient. They will find new hybrid models of former business models. Retail people are driven by necessity, they are not afraid of hard work having worked on the front line throughout their careers.
“Unfortunately, many businesses will not survive, but more will and will be stronger for it.”