18/06/2015

By Jayne Archbold, CEO of Sage Enterprise Market Europe & Chair Sage ERP X3 Globally

Uncertainty is scary. With all of the conflicting economic news out of the European Union lately, uncertainty seems to be the name of the economic game. Recent headlines about slowing growth are only adding to the confusion amongst United Kingdom business people. In February, for example, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) predicted 2.7 percent growth for the UK economy; on June 8th, the CBI downgraded its outlook for growth, predicting the economy will only grow by 2.4 percent. This type of uncertainty can make devising growth strategies seem like an impossible task for business owners.

One thing is for certain for those looking to seize on economic opportunity. Taking a measured approach now will allow for navigating the uncertainty, whilst preparing to take advantage of the expected economic growth during the latter half of 2015.

Here are some tips to help you put aside the headlines and direct your efforts towards positioning your business for growth:

Technology and workforce development go hand in hand.

Remember that economic indicators are always trailing indictors–look beyond the headlines and plan for growth based on what your business actually needs to stay strategic and competitive. Whilst it’s impossible to see into the future, remember that technology can be your best friend when it comes to planning for growth. A robust business intelligence solution coupled with a succession-planning tool can provide insight into your current situation, empowering you to make informed and strategic decisions about the direction of your company and your workforce. Of course, whenever possible, consult a human resources professional–they’ll help you maximise the talent you have and help you plan for the talent you’ll need in the future.

Cross-train and never be left behind.

With the UK nearing full employment for the first time since 1994, finding that “must have” employee in this job market may prove to be challenging. Instead of putting your growth plans on hold due to being short staffed–or risking failure due to losing a key player at a critical juncture–why not cross-train some of your employees so losing one won’t leave a hole in your company?

Cross-training your employees to mitigate risk may involve developing your team to capacity so your company has the flexibility to respond to fluctuating workflows. It can also include training for different skill sets in the event that a key employee leaves, or simply as a way to prepare an employee to step up in the organisation. Either way, cross-training can be extremely beneficial to your organisation as a whole.

In this age of instantly available information, conflicting economic news seems to be the only constant. However, keeping a level head and adhering to these tips will provide the focus needed to be poised for growth when the time is right.