There’s no getting around it: this is a tough time to be in business. A lot of companies are going under, which might be reducing the competition but is also disrupting supply chains. People struggling with the cost-of-living crisis are less inclined to spend money on non-essentials and are looking for bargains wherever they can get them. Surviving in this environment means it’s more important than ever to be well-organised and to plan as far ahead as possible. There may be no easy solutions to some problems, but if you act where you can and do so promptly, you will benefit.
Most discussion around rising fuel costs has focused on the impact on private households, but it’s no secret that many businesses are struggling. As we head into the winter months, with the Met Office predicting early snowfall, especially across the north and west of the country, heating costs for your premises could rise steeply on top of fuel costs associated with production and running your offices. If you suspect you will struggle to meet payments, you should contact your supplier early to discuss your options. You may be able to spread your payments over a more extended period. As an alternative, some businesses are planning to shorten their working week.
When you’re up against it in other ways, you must ensure you’re getting the best out of your workforce. COVID is back in a big way this winter, with new strains increasingly resistant to vaccines and long COVID now affecting one in ten people. Be especially sensible about hygiene and look for distance working options for those most at risk (as well as those who may infect others). You should also be alert to the increase in substance abuse which always accompanies tough economic times, and use regular workplace drug testing, doing what you can to get proper help for employees who turn out to have problems.
On top of these other problems, UK businesses face a complex situation when trading internationally. As the Brexit process continues, the regulatory framework surrounding international transactions will go on changing, so it’s vital to stay on top of it all. The good news is that the fall in the pound is good for exports. Of course, the flip side of that is that it’s now more expensive to import materials, while market volatility is discouraging businesses elsewhere from setting up long-term deals with UK companies. There are no simple solutions to this. You will have to stay on your toes and be as flexible as possible.
Facing these challenges can be dispiriting, but it’s worth keeping in mind that there are still companies out there which survived the world wars and the global depression of the 1930s. If you can make it through these difficult times, you will be in a strong position when things start to improve again. Making the extra effort today will secure a better tomorrow.