Grow your business in a changing environment

Aug. 24, 2023 | 5 Min read
Australian agribusiness has experienced significant economic uplift over recent years but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that has now changed, writes Chris Green.

Australian agribusiness has experienced significant economic uplift over recent years but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that has now changed, writes Chris Green*.

Demand indicators have shifted with sales of machinery, products and services becoming more challenging. Add to this lumpy supply chains, increased wage pressure and escalating freight and logistic costs and you can see why so many agribusinesses are struggling to achieve sustainable cashflows.

I have always been amazed the number of business owners that when the business climate shifts and demand declines, resort back to their operational role as the ‘technician’. That is, they turn up to their own business like it is a job and do the operational technical work where they feel most comfortable.

This is understandable. The thing about rural business is that it is very personal. Your name is on everything the business does. Protecting your reputation in the community is critical for sustainability and longevity. Relationships with your clients, relationships with your staff and in the case of family businesses working relationships with your family members, are often considered, and prioritised above the needs of the business.

Given this, it is little wonder, that in difficult times, so many of us retreat from our role as leader and entrepreneur, to operating as the technician. We become reactive in the moment, at the mercy of the business environment which we are facing. So how should we lean into challenging times?

Set an inspiring long-term vision

As things get tough, an inspirational vision is the most powerful tool you as the leader, can have in your arsenal. The ability to metaphorically lift your organisations eyes above the day-to-day weeds to outline a different future is critical to shift perspective and build organisational resilience. Articulating that we are not where we want to be yet, but we have a plan, provides a long-term perspective. This says things are rarely as good or bad as they seem in the moment but if we stay the course we will get there. Once we have our vision, what’s next?

Focus on the process not the outcomes

If you focus on the end result without defining the organisational behaviours that ultimately lead to that outcome, you are unlikely to succeed. Developing processes in the day to day that are supported by defined behaviours and informed through KPIs, and a scorecard will inform progress. Creating visibility that demonstrates small incremental improvement, encourages perseverance and belief.

Even in a downturn, small wins in the day to day build organisational and individual confidence. Little victories that provide the short-term rewards and nourishment we are wired to crave. This can create enough momentum to stay the course that when compounded, can achieve big goals. Now we have the discipline and structures to get confident and execute our vision, how do we leverage our resources?

Pick the low hanging fruit

In tough times it is critical you lean on the resources and competitive advantages you already have. The most valuable of these is reputational resources. By leveraging your reputation most notably through existing customers, and reimagining your offering, can you open new revenue opportunities?

What else might your client need that would make sense in your business model? Bundling products, enticing terms, value adding through something the client values but costs you little, is a creative, imaginative process. Play light, trial new offerings and you might be surprised where this takes you.

Business by design

The thing about having your own business is you get to set the rules even in challenging economic times. You get to create a business by your design. If you accept this as true, why are so many of us working in our businesses as if we are turning up to a job?

As the leader of your organisation, you get to set the direction that shifts perspective and drives organisational resilience. You get to create the processes and behaviours that produce incremental wins and sustained confidence. You get to leverage your resources and harvest the low hanging fruit.

In deciding to lead your business, you have the opportunity to take advantage of any market shifts.

*Chris Green, author of Business By Design, is an entrepreneurial strategist, author, mentor and facilitator with more than 20 years’ experience helping clients grow their businesses and achieve their leadership potential. Having owned and operated a number of businesses, he understands the challenges provides SMEs the support needed to transform and grow successfully. Contact: https://www.chrisgreen.au/

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