Monday, 6 October 2008

Who's Bailing Out Your Business?

Finally, the US 700 billion bail-out package (or buying-in as what it was last referred to) has been approved by the US Houses of Representative and Congress. This is in addition to few hundred billion dollars that were used to help Freddie and Fannie and few other Wall Street outfits, using the "main street" money. Off course, after the deal was sweetened with tax cuts and other initiative to "insulate" the taxpayers from downside risks.

That is corporate America. When things get tough, rules could be re-written. Does this apply to us, mere mortals in other parts of the world?

Globally, the general response by governments around the world have been two-pronged. Making sure there is enough liquidity in the financial market to enhance "market confidence" while at the same time throwing something to the laps of individuals and small businesses (read: voters) to appease their wrath against those who have been benefiting from irresponsible lending.

What about your businesses?

With the overall sombre mood globally, somehow demand for goods and services would be affected, purely on the more cautious spending by everybody around the world (unless you belong to the group who has endless resources to spend without thinking). This is a factor which you have to be prepared to live with, at least for the next 6 months.

Such changes would require a strategic response, since the ground has shifted. For example, a review on the impact of weaker demand to the financial health of your key customers would be a good starting point. This would provide you with a feel whether the demand for your products and services would be affected as well. A part from that, it would also provide you with the insight of the overall liquidity situation in your own industry and market.

Having tracked the possible risks, you have to figure out the response required to mitigate the possible downside effect. Sell more? Reduce price? Provide more flexible credit terms? Re-engineer your products and services? Increase efficiency?Some or all the options would need serious consideration to ensure the sustainability of your business.

After that, you have to work out the capabilities that you have or don't have to realise what you have decided to do. If you were to provide more flexible credit terms, do you have the financial strength to endure slower flow of cash? If you want to increase production efficiency to reduce cost, do you have the trained employees who are motivated to work smarter and harder under the present circumstances?

The interesting part about business is that the challenges keep of changing and when you feel that you had overcome one, another may crops out. The important thing is to have a process where the changes in the market place and the shifting of the ground are tracked and responded to appropriately. If you are contented with the success of the past, please be assured that tomorrow may be totally different!

While those who are on the Wall Street may have Big Brother the bail them out, you may not be so lucky. It is you and only you that have the better chance to ensure the business that you have been building all the while to continue to be sustainable and successful.

It is all up to YOU!
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