Leaders, it’s time to get back into start-up mode

December 7, 2022

The coming recession is likely to be deeper and more severe than we originally thought.

Forecasts suggest that the economy will continue to shrink until the summer of 2023 and that the UK will experience a 1.4% contraction across the whole of next year – that’s a major U-turn from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s initial forecast for 1.8% growth, which was only published in March.

What does this mean for entrepreneurs and business leaders?

It means you need to get back into start-up mode.

Remember those heady early days of your business when you rose before dawn and worked well into the night, waking at 2am to send a quick email to suppliers in another time zone? Those days are back.

These are going to be tough times, and you need to be absolutely focused on your business. You need to know what’s working and what’s not. That means getting back into the detail. Even those running larger organisations need to get back into the trenches – don’t just rely on your direct reports. Go and speak to people in every department. Ask them what’s really going on – their challenges and pressure points. Ask them what customers love and what developments would really make your product or service stand out in the marketplace.

This complex trading environment also means you need to sweat your assets like never before. Rip up your budget forecasts for 2023; it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Any “nice to have” investments must wait. If you were going to hire more people in advance of growth, it might be better to get through the coming year first. Explain to your teams that you will be expecting them to give 100% as we move into this critical period – reward them, motivate them, and make sure they know how important their efforts are to the continued success of the company.

Costs must be controlled but don’t cut back on the spending that generates more business. You still need to be out there prospecting, meeting customers, and getting your brand name out into the world. These are not “nice to haves”- these are business-critical expenses, and you will cut them at your peril.

Data is going to become your best friend (if it isn’t already). It’s only by analysing every single metric of success that you’ll understand what kind of work brings in the most profit, which jobs lose you money, and which assets are underutilised.

When you have absolute clarity on your data, you can even see which loss-leaders are worth keeping because they open the doors to other, more lucrative projects. This is the kind of insight that we at BigChange are bringing our customers. I believe it will ensure they remain unstoppable, despite the challenging times ahead.

In fact, BigChange has launched a new campaign with this mission, mantra, and customer promise: be unstoppable. We want ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners to feel empowered to act and unleash their energy - even when the going gets tough. 

Whatever technology you use to help drive efficiency, lean on it now. Many businesses only use a small percentage of the tech at their disposal. That’s the kind of waste that can easily be utilised - especially by leaders with a start-up mindset who don’t mind burning the midnight oil to plumb the depths of their business software.

2023 won’t be easy, but the businesses that survive will be fitter, leaner, and better prepared for the future than ever before. Recessions test our mettle as leaders. They hone our business models and cement our place in the hearts of our customers. Think of this time as an opportunity to go from good to great.

Think like a start-up, and you’ll be fine.


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