by Kevin Gaskell
You can’t really miss it. The headlines, the endless discussions and debates, the boundless optimism from some and apocalyptic warnings from others. Unless you’ve had your head stuck in the sand for the last few months – and who, at times, hasn’t wanted to do that?! – the turbulence in the markets has permeated all aspects of daily life.
And there’s good reason to be concerned. There’s been more turbulence in the last 6 months than in the last 6 years.
But it’s not permanent - since 1970 there have been over 400 ‘financial and economic crises’ but in that same period international trade has grown from $1 trillion to $33 trillion. This is long term growth.
You don’t have to look far to see that most of the headline column space is dedicated to short-term reactions. A cry goes up when a political or economic situation develops, and you react by taking your business in one direction. You then react again when the wind swings in a different direction.
There are investors who specialise in making money in these turbulent times by speculating that others will react in a certain way. They know that herd mentality is a strong force. When, as a business leader, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place do you react as others do, or do you keep your cool? If you try and anticipate an outcome based on short term changes then before you know it, you’ve got yourself entangled in a situation that it’s difficult to turn back from.
Let’s turn away from the culture of reacting to supposition, rumours and those infamous ‘alternative facts’.
It’s not good for your own peace of mind, let alone for your business.
Your vision is the key
Instead, let’s focus on the core issue here. What are we trying to achieve? You just need to work on what your vision is; What does success for your business look like? Take time to describe it, work out what it looks like, what it sounds like, even what it feels like.
Remind yourself that this is what you are aiming for. Immerse yourself in your total brand experience; it’s what the visitor sees, hears and feels whenever they walk into your reception, meets a member of your staff or browses your website. Your vision is on show from the moment the receptionist greets visitors and customers are welcomed to your offices.
And having a clear, transparent vision allows you to build a successful company.
Future-proofing your business
Start there, with the vision of where you want to be, and then work back to here, to where you are now.
It’s a straight line. If you start there and work back to here, focusing on your long-term strategy, you can then future-proof your business against reacting to short-term turbulence - which can only be bad for you and your organisation.
You can still be flexible!
I realise that you can’t be completely rigid. It’s not helpful to be inflexible as there will be some aspects of change you will need to react and adapt to. These maybe changes in legislation, currency fluctuations, emerging new technologies, etc.
As a businessman, I understand which of these factors impact my businesses. Which ones do you need to be aware of? How do we counter the negative influences and ride the positive influences?
Let’s look at an example of this:
Porsche GB: how I countered short-term market turbulence
I ran Porsche GB through the massive market turbulences of the 1990s. The financial markets were in turmoil, Black Friday hit, interest rates peaked at nearly 15%, and to cap it all, Porsche was deemed a ‘glitz and glamour’ brand by the press, one that was only focused on fast cars and celebrity endorsements.
To turn this around, we decided what our vision of success looked like. We focused on the key characteristics of quality, heritage, integrity and design and pushed through this message at every opportunity. All parts of the business were aligned to this vision, from the receptionists through to the boardroom, from the glossy marketing materials through to the factory floor. We did not compromise. And the result? Porsche GB went from being No. 32 out of 32 in the brand satisfaction charts coupled with -20% profitability, to 4 years later hitting No. 1 in the brand satisfaction charts and +20% profitability.
If There’s One Thing You Should Do Today…
So the message is: don’t lose your head. Slow down, define your vision of success, stick to your plan, hold firm with your strategy. Remain the same whatever the market throws at you. Focus on getting better at what you do. Bigger will follow.