Optimism among private-company CEOs is at a 16 year low, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. As a result, companies are putting expansion plans on hold, says Ken Esch, a partner with the firm. That could be a mistake, warns Esch, who has been encouraging clients to do more than just hunker down. In fact, he says, now may be the best time to start planning for a rebound. “Companies can build a strong advantage during a recession,” Esch says. “Many successful businesses got that way because they made a strategic decision during difficult times.”
Below are six steps you can take now to prepare for the end of the recession:
1. Invest in technology– Technological improvements- new billing software, for example, or an online ordering system- will allow you to add new customers with little additional cost when business picks up.
2. Snap up talent on the cheap– Because of record layoffs, the job market is flooded with qualified applicants. Take this opportunity to hire talented employees at a discount.
3. Ramp up training– Identify employees’ strengths and weaknessess and invest in targeted training and development programs to prepare them for the upswing. The Leadership Trust® can help in training and developing your leaders during this ‘down time’ so that you are well prepared for the changes sure to come.
4. Form strategic partnerships– Make the most of the business slowdown by striking up partnerships that will pay off down the road.
5. Get to know prospective customers– Build relationships with potential customers and learn more about their needs, then tailor your offerings accordingly to position your company for the future.
6. Cut costs strategically– Instead of making across-the-board cuts, analyze costs carefully and reduce spending in ways that are unlikely to impair future growth. Be sure to put controls in place so spending stays in check after the rebound.
Planning Now for an Economic Rebound published July 2009 by Inc. Magazine