The recession of 2008 saw many companies initially cut back on expenditures only to later realise they should be investing to drive growth and development for a business boom.
Since 2003 Astus has been successfully driving added value for our clients through media barter. Prior to the downturn in 2008 we were engaging with many clients who viewed our services as a “nice to have” rather than a “must have”. As companies started to look at ways to work their asset base harder we garnered more and more interest in our service.
Leveraging your own inventory
Before cutting budgets, companies should consider how to use their intellectual property, goods and services more effectively to produce a business boom. The fear of a recession pushes many companies to cut back, but it’s far more important to make sure you’re using what you already have to make your budgets go further.
Businesses can use their own products and services to create mutually beneficial partnerships such as Uber’s deal with car-sharing service Zipcar, providing vehicles to Uber drivers. It will be interesting to see what new partnerships develop over the next six months once Article 50 has been triggered.
Another way inventory can be leveraged is when buying media – one of the largest costs to most companies. You can save large amounts of money using media barter. It’s a business process that has emerged over the last 20 years to help advertisers offset the enormous costs of their media by allowing them to use their goods and services to part pay for their media spend.
When we launched Astus, media barter had a somewhat tarnished reputation for leaving advertisers out of pocket. But we built a company based on transparency, honesty and delivering of promises, which meant we were able to change perceptions and not just survive the 2008 recession but thrive in it, working with a range of companies from SMEs to large corporates.
By being creative and innovative will make your money work harder, which doesn’t require additional investment.
Your staff are people, not robots
As I mentioned above, some companies go on a cost cutting frenzy when faced with economic uncertainty. In a race to do this they demand more efficiency from staff, but while your staff should always work efficiently it’s imperative to remember they are people, not robots.
There’s a fine line between an efficient happy workforce and an overstretched and understaffed workforce.
I can’t stress enough how important it is that your staff enjoy working for you to create a business boom – fail at this and you can sit back and watch them leave in swathes as soon as economic stability returns.
It’s difficult to create a good working culture if it isn’t embedded in your company from conception, but it’s even harder to resurrect one once it’s been destroyed.
Successful office cultures are based on honesty, transparency and delivering on promises, which should weave their way through everything you do, from hiring new people and training staff, to pitching for new business and creating long-lasting relationships with clients. But these must be maintained, even under duress.
Whilst I understand that you can’t spend money you don’t have, you shouldn’t cut back budgets to the detriment of your office culture.
Finding and retaining talent
The affect of Brexit gloom on talent and diversity will remain unclear until some very important questions are answered: Will Europeans currently living in the UK be able to remain? Post Brexit will the visa process for foreign workers be seamless?
If the answer to either of these is no, then it’s natural to worry about where your talent will come from, as well as where it might go.
Companies may take action in preparation of Brexit, whether it’s by moving staff out of London such as Goldman Sachs, or freezing recruitment as has been predicted by The Institute of Directors after the referendum vote. My advice is to not follow suit, this is the very time we should be supporting our own economy.
Offering new learning experiences within the current business framework will help to ensure your talent remain engaged and continue to be brand ambassadors. We offer a range of training courses to aid the development of our staff. When you allow someone the freedom to express themselves and grow you’re rewarded with staff that feel appreciated and valued, and want to stay.
Freezing budgets won’t keep our economy healthy, it’ll only push it further down the spiral. Brexit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK, but it will only be an opportunity and not a failing if you prepare by continuing to invest in your staff and company for a business boom.
Your staff are your company’s backbone; continue putting your staff and values at the forefront of all your business decisions.
David Jones is MD of Astus UK