We had expected this year to pan out much differently than it actually did. I do not want to sound too pessimistic, but it is likely that the next year will not be much better, as 2023 will largely be effected by what happened in 2022 and before. High inflation, central bank tightening, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the continued effects of Covid in China are all global events that will very likely continue effecting us all in 2023. Thus, as a business leader you need to lead through all these headwinds.
First of all, it is very easy, as a business leader, to feel overwhelmed and at a loss. To try to defend yourselves and move away from such a feeling of helplessness, I urge you to keep things simple and focus all your energies on what you can really control. Below are some pointers you can focus upon to help get you through all this turbulence.
- Focus on how to set your business apart from the rest. Being able to differentiate your business from the rest can take many forms – it can be based on on pricing strategies, evolving the value proposition, delivering service quality, shortening response time, making cross-selling a reality or delivering a unique customer experience. As a leader your main role is to keep asking the right questions. Questions like “Why would a customer choose us?” or “What are we offering differently and better than the rest?” Being different is entirely within a company’s own control. This many times depends on you as a business leader and on you keeping the focus on this matter.
- Focus on making sure you have an adequate organisational structure. It is useless differentiating yourself and growing your business without being clear on what organisational structure you should have to support all this. You need to be meticulous and careful to balance between having a good organisational structure that can support growth but then not having an organisational structure which is too loaded – meaning that it drags down the business’s efficiency and financial performance. I see it way to often that as businesses grow, organisational structures grow haphazardly, with significant increases in headcount and countless “special projects” being started. Remember that growth for the sake of growth is not needed – it is only growth that leads to profitable growth that is required. The devil here is in the detail, but make sure that you have a “fit and efficient” organisational structure.
- Focus on having a digital adoption that is effective and at the right levels. One way whereby businesses can grow while keeping there operational costs under check is through digitisation of their operational processes. So one area of focus is seeing how to transform digital capabilities into business growth. This would likely mean that you would need to invest in digital transformation across functions that would push to change inefficient operational processes to more efficient ones and hence driving change more aggressively. Your focus should also be on making it possible for key persons to have access to key data more effectively to achieve better and faster decision-making. Yet again all this is entirely within a company’s own control.
- Focus on making sure that all business units are delivering. As businesses need to continue evolving to gain differentiation and efficiency (as outlined above), you need to make sure that all business units are actually worth all this transformation energy. Could it be that things have changed and certain business units are not worth it anymore? Are you stuck to them simple based on sentimental value? Business transformation to gain differentiation and efficiency is already difficult enough, but using all that energy on defunct business units, is a double whammy, whereby the likelihood of a successful transformation is reduced. Yet again, determining what should be in or out of your business portfolio is entirely within your own control.
- Focus on reducing risk. Risk is more abundant than ever. Companies face supply-chain continuity risk and risks related to inflation, regulation, fast evolving consumer preferences and much more. So any business today needs to have an objective risk assessment that leads to ways of how such risks can be mitigated. As a business leader you need to focus on mitigating risks by diversifying supply chains, reducing concentration of your business in certain parts of the world or in certain economic sectors and to mitigate inflation. Proactive risk management should be perceived as an asset more than ever before. Businesses that successfully manage risk will likely have the right mindset and strategies to achieve profitable growth. Yet again, successful risk management is entirely within your company’s own control.
My message is simple. It is true businesses have more headwinds than some years ago. However the best way to bolster the chances of your business navigating successfully such turbulence, is to focus on what is within your own control. In doing so, your business will be able to retain and earn the confidence and trust of employees, customers and other stakeholders. Remember that in times of turbulence your employees require leadership more than ever before. Hence focusing on the above areas of control is a sure way of winning the trust and confidence of your own employees. The good news is that each of the above focus areas are within management’s control.
One thought on “What to focus on in 2023”
Very true. Well put.
What I would add, if I may, is that in my opinion it is also vital to try and re-invent oneself.
In such dire times, I have learnt that through small, yet effective changes, not only in one’s operational strategy but also in small things like product choices, ancillary services and marketing tone of voice, helps in standing out and be somewhat different from the rest.