Our nationwide Strategies for Growth event series gathered economists, sustainability leaders, and talent experts to share some cutting-edge insights into successful business growth in today’s economic climate. Here’s just some of the key takeaways.
Growing a business is no easy task, particularly when considering recent economic volatility and geopolitical tensions. However, employing an optimistic, future-thinking mindset can go a long way in developing a successful approach to business growth in today’s fast-moving world.
Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture
It's easy to get bogged down in the short-term progression or decline of inflation, interest rates and GDP growth. However, when it comes to the economy, it's useful to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. While in the near term, the outlook might seem negative, over the last two years, there’s evidence to show that things haven’t been quite as bad as predicted. Try and make business decisions that take into account longer-term economic trends and patterns, rather than acting reactively to day-to-day news.
Navigating a challenging economic environment
Whilst there have been undeniable economic challenges in recent times, it's important not to let this lower business confidence too much. Some risk-taking can be vital to successful business growth. When it comes to the economy, it can be useful to remember that many slowdowns or challenges will impact everyone. Indeed, this is true around the world at the moment – with countries across Europe and beyond also navigating volatility.
Keep an eye on AI
As a result of its effects on productivity, AI is set to have a significant impact on the world of business, and the economy in general. By increasing efficiency, working models could be set to shift. It's important for business leaders to consider how they will embrace this technology, and what impact it will have on training, skillsets, and the global economy. Keep an eye on new developments and plan for AI integration.
Tackling the talent challenge
While SMEs might not always be able to compete with larger players in terms of salary, there can be a range of other things that attract a candidate to a new role – whether that’s flexible working policies, or a focus ESG or DE&I. Indeed, flexibility can go a long way these days, whether that is through flexible hours or hybrid working models. Whilst some industries might find this a challenge, adopting as flexible an approach as possible could benefit the business when it comes to attracting talent.
Future proof your team
There’s lots to think about in terms of skills of the future – particularly when it comes to sustainability and AI. Companies should try and map their existing teams, and figure out what skills are strong within their workforces and what the gaps are. Focusing first and foremost on where the business is at the moment so that you can future-proof is the best place to start. This needs to be a collaborative process, and it also needs to be ongoing; things are changing very quickly.
Create a great culture
When it comes to tackling the talent challenge, culture is everything. Communicate with employees and locate core values that can be used to develop a culture that helps attract and retain top talent – something which is imperative for business growth. With Gen X and Gen Z entering the workforce, and the value they place on ESG and DE&I, it is vital that businesses stay agile and get the right policies and culture in place for a future-thinking business. Consider measuring culture with KPIs and structured targets to ensure success.
Growing your business sustainably
Start the journey somewhere
It's easy to be daunted by sustainability requirements, but every business has to begin its sustainability journey somewhere. As long as change is in motion, then that’s a great beginning. Understanding your existing carbon footprint can be useful when setting realistic targets for reducing emissions – while thinking carefully about how to finance some of these changes is vital for a successful transition.
Consider the future of your supply chain
Businesses should be prepared to investigate each stage of their supply chain to ensure they are taking a holistic approach to their sustainability strategy. For SMEs this is applicable in reverse: consider who you supply to, and what their approach to sustainability is. By doing due diligence when it comes to supply chains, businesses can help avoid surprise sustainable obstacles in the future.
Stay ahead of the curve
When it comes to sustainability, moving first and staying ahead of the curve can be hugely advantageous. With regulatory requirements and net zero commitments inevitable, there’s no avoiding the need to operate sustainably now, let alone in the near future. But it can be helpful to think about the risk-side of transition, and how future thinking can help mitigate the change.