Managing in uncertain times

Uncertainty seems to be the only certainty at the moment. Uncertainty can be scary and lead to anxiety and stress however being able to deal with uncertainty positively is critical as uncertainty and change are part of life.

So how can you deal with uncertainty positively? Here are some tips and ideas to help you.

Accept where you are and focus on what is within your control. A big part of dealing with uncertainty is accepting the current situation and where you and your business are now. Accept things that are outside of your control as they are and focus on things that are within your control.

Take stock. Understand where you and your business are now. Make sure you have the up to date business and financial performance figures and that you understand your cash flow and forward sales position. Take stock of all aspects of your business.

Get your house in order. Make sure all aspects of your business are working efficiently and effectively including people, customer service, processes and procedures, contracts, sales and marketing, systems or any other area of your business. Make improvements so that your business is ready to deal with anything.

Gather information and facts. Understand what is happening in the outside world, including customer trends, economic changes, competitor activity and all areas that may impact your business. Gather information and facts, don’t work on hearsay and gossip.

Plan and be prepared. As you are dealing with uncertainty about the future be prepared and plan for different possibilities or outcomes. You will need to think through the key factors that may impact your business, use up to date information, make assumptions and prepare a flexible plan. Keep revising the plan as things change.

Spread risk. Consider the key risks to your business and where you assess the risk to be too high look at spreading the risk. This may include changes such as increasing your number of customers or suppliers, reducing your debt, moving to smaller premises or many other things.

Look for opportunities. Uncertainty can create lots of opportunities as other businesses become anxious, indecisive and complacent and new opportunities arise with the changes that are happening. Make sure you are being creative, thinking outside of the box and looking for opportunities.

Be agile and flexible. In times of high uncertainty you and your business need to be agile and flexible, be proactive, make changes and react accordingly. Staying as you are and doing everything in the same way will lead to you losing your way and slipping behind your competitors.

Take decisions and take action. Uncertainty can lead to indecision and inaction. Successful businesses will assess the situation, plan, keep focused, make decisions and take action to stay ahead.

Watch your thinking. Be careful with your thinking in times of uncertainty as you are likely to worry more, focus on the negatives and start catastrophising and over generalising. Think about how much of what you worried about in the past has actually happened to try and gain perspective. Focus on the positives, notice your thinking and focus on changing your thinking when it becomes unhelpful.

Speak to others and ask for help and support. In times of uncertainty it is good to speak to trusted contacts to share experiences, gain perspective and for support. You may also want to seek support from outside experts.

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