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Jannie Rossouw, head of the Sanlam Business Market, says during these times business owners need to pay even more attention to their planning than they would ‘ordinarily’ do.

There is never a ‘right time’ to review your business plan and strategy, because nothing is ever certain in the business environment, argues Rossouw. “People will continue to make purchases and pay for services in tough economic times, but the question is: why would they buy from you?”.

According to Rossouw, finding the answer to this question is what distinguishes businesses that grow from those that sink in tough economic climates.

The review of your business strategy should be a continuous exercise and successful business owners should have an annual game plan to guide their growth focus, priorities and track their progress. As we near the end of the year some businesses will be experiencing an upswing while others see business levelling off. Regardless of the nature of your business, the end of the cycle is always a good time to analyse your operations and review the external factors that will affect you in future.

Rossouw says some may view drastic decisions in a challenging environment with scepticism, but he points out that a business cannot survive through reactive decisions. Proactive planning is what differentiates the winners from the losers.

“He advises business owners to create a dashboard to help them assess their business needs against economic changes. “It will not only show you which areas require improvement, but will also point out where a complete overhaul may be needed. He says this is where a personal relationship with your customers comes to play.

“Your customers are your most valuable resource for research. If you make changes because customers want it, there is virtually no risk on implementing the change. If you do make changes, they must be impactful.”

Rossouw advises that businesses cannot afford to compete only on price as loyalty becomes more important when consumers are stretched. So when implementing change, your value proposition must distinguish you from other businesses and it must be delivered at the right time and in rightprice. Rossouw believes it is possible for business owners to grow and even double their business during tough economic times provided you follow the right strategy.

To assist business owners in drawing up a business game plan, he urges them to access the free on-line Sanlam Annual Business Game Plan for Success e-book. It offers a simple framework for a well-crafted plan for positive change and business growth.

The book can be downloaded via on Sanlam’s website here.

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