Pitney Bowes Bank

Planning ahead

It’s not always easy, but thinking one, two or three years in advance can help you better predict and react to changing business conditions.

Take steps to permanently future-proof your business.

Check you have the right team

Now is a good time to ensure you have the right team. Determine which employees have been self-managing and can be relied on, what skills are missing and consider hiring them in, and which employees may need to be assigned to other work. Some job functions could potentially be performed as well remotely, which could reduce office expenses.

Remove bottlenecks

Consider what you need to make your business work in times of stress, and identify any bottlenecks or issues, such as one key customer for the majority of your revenue or one major supplier for the majority of your raw materials or supplies. Other actions you can take include:

  • Reduce the distance of your supply chain or at least have alternative domestic or in-state sources.
  • Identify any critical supplies, raw materials, or ingredients and have an extra month of inventory (without unnecessary stockpiling) to keep you going if supply suddenly ceases.
  • Document any lessons learned to help you run a better business and implement them.

Seek wider insight

In times of crisis, you’ll often find you can’t do it all on your own. Identify who you can call on for advice about growth and future strategies. Some sources include:

  • Obtain advice from your trusted advisors: your lawyer, accountant, banker, mentor
  • Get market research feedback from your customers, your suppliers, and other stakeholders
  • Speak to other small business owners
  • Make sure you are regularly getting up-to-date information on your industry, research and development breakthroughs, and particularly on what your competitors are doing

Update a one-page SWOT plan every quarter

To keep ahead, you need to review your business plan dashboard regularly featuring the most critical questions, including:

  • Strengths: what you’re (still) really good at and what you’re doing to protect these from competitors
  • Weaknesses: what (still) isn’t quite working that well and ways to eliminate them
  • Opportunities: what new products, services, customers, markets, technology, or trends could change the way your business works
  • Threats: the events outside your control that you need to minimize

Focus on cash flow

In a crisis, having cash reserves to outlast a dramatic fall in sales without closing the doors is a lifesaver. Decide on how much working capital you need and then outline where this may come from when you really need it (business savings, access to loans, or your own capital).

Complete a lean business plan

If you have a full business plan, consider writing shortened versions on a more regular basis. A Lean Canvas approach will help you sketch out the main components of your business strategy, which include:

  • The problems you solve for customers
  • Key customer segments
  • Your unique service proposition
  • A solution to the problem
  • The channels to your customers
  • How you will generate revenue streams
  • Your cost structures and how you make a profit
  • Key metrics to measure performance
  • Your unfair advantage

A business plan, of course, is just a piece of paper, so it’s important, once it’s written, to decide what needs action and set up a cadence of tasks.

Stay on top of evolving information, focus on making sales and maintaining cash flow, reach out to people you trust for their input and advice, and work closely with your team – and you’ll be well-positioned to be a stronger business in the future.

Pitney Bowes Bank understands the unique financial challenges of small- to mid-sized businesses. We provide real-world financial solutions that complement your existing bank relationships and are focused on your long-term objectives.

Learn more today!
Be the first to get expert insights, directly to your inbox
Sign up for our emails.
Loading form content…

Banking products and services are provided by The Pitney Bowes Bank, Inc., Member FDIC. Pitney Bowes, Pitney Bowes Bank, and the Corporate logo are trademarks of Pitney Bowes Inc. or a subsidiary. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.