Economic uncertainty and the cost-of-living crisis are presenting exceptional challenges for businesses. We asked Bethan Evans, Partner at Menzies LLP, to share some insights into how to manage a business successfully and build resilience, which we hope will be particularly helpful to businesses in these unstable times.
Managing a rugby team, managing a business?
Managing a business is not easy - even when the economic and political landscape is stable. There’s getting the product or service offering right, marketing, staffing, sales targets, credit control, finance and so on that all need careful consideration and ongoing management. It’s an art that some people make look easy and excel at - similar to many managers within rugby and football. So, what other similarities does managing a rugby or football team have to a business, and what can we learn from this to enable us to run a business more effectively?
A team needs to be flexible depending on their opponent. The same is true in business. You need a business plan that is flexible to withstand the changes the business will inevitably face throughout its life. Changes might include government legislation, industry regulation, economic forces, natural disasters, political events and so forth. Being able to flex the business plan to accommodate these changes will stand the business in good stead.
A team needs to communicate to reach the try line or goal. In business, communication with customers is key to sales, with suppliers it’s key to resources, with staff it’s key to energy and motivation, with advisors it’s key to the best advice and with funders it’s key to finance. Ultimately, it’s about how these stakeholders support the business and a lack of communication will equate to lost support, impacting working capital cycle, cash flows and profitability.
A team needs to surround itself with professionals. It needs coaches, physios, medics and dieticians to help it reach its potential. Businesses need professional support too, they just have different names like HR advisor, accountant, lawyer, banker, broker. What is important is recognising when the business needs these professionals and seeking their counsel rather than going it alone. I doubt the rugby team would ditch the medic’s expertise so the business shouldn’t ditch that of their professionals either.
Teams need personal welfare time. They need time to decompress after a tough game; to reflect, relax, rejuvenate. Businesspeople do too. For some that might be mindfulness, others it’s the gym, others may want to escape with some terrible TV or a good book. What is important is the time out to enable better perspective and see the bigger picture more easily.
Sometimes there’s a need to look at the bigger picture. Step back from the day-to-day grind and look at the business in the round. Look at it through the eyes of different stakeholders and try to see it from their perspective. This will help in critical strategic decision making.
Even rugby and football teams need cash, and the insolvency of several over the years is testament to that fact. There is no escaping that cash is king and it has to be looked after. That means looking after sales with adequate credit control functions and being cautious when offering credit. It means
managing suppliers and working the working capital. Preparing cashflows will significantly help businesses to forward plan, make strategic decisions and identify funding requirements.
I am certainly not going to be managing any rugby or football teams any time soon, but I might be watching some good rugby and helping one or two businesses along the way.
Menzies LLP’s Business Recovery team offers practical support and advice to businesses of all sizes, across industry sectors. Where possible, the firm’s experts provide practical solutions for improving cash management and operational resilience and early engagement is key to improving outcomes. To find out more, get in touch by emailing email@example.com.