After all the Christmas and new year festivities are over and it’s time to get back to business, 2014 looks set to be the milestone when the UK economy turns the corner of recovery and stabilises itself on the road to growth.
It’s been a long struggle that has resulted in many casualties and, to be quite honest, the commercial arena has been a dreary place to be over the last five or six years.
But it is looking increasingly likely the stories of liquidation and mass redundancies will begin to slowly be replaced by those that publicise new start-ups, inspiring examples of entrepreneurship and an increase in consumer spending as confidence returns.
So it is probably time for company bosses to start planning how they are going to act if they are to be first in line for the fresh business that could soon come their way.
Half a decade of downscaling capacity and operating within the most modest means creates a ‘small town’ mentality that has been very much necessary during these times of austerity – but 2014 will have to breed a new way of thinking.
But as has been the rhetoric the whole way through the deal, none of these changes are instant. It is naive to think that as soon as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Day, the phone will immediately start ringing with the sweet sound of wholesalers committing orders of pre-recession proportions.
It will be gradual process and your business’s plans for upscaling must reflect this. You don’t want to miss out on your slice of the pie when the new deals come knocking because you’ve failed to adapt your capacity. But at the same time, if your desire to aim for the stars results in an approach that is too gung ho this could be just as detrimental.
Expanding too quickly before the anticipated demand actually materialises could lead to unit costs rocketing. If you’ve committed to hiring new premises, overshot your stock orders or assembled a bloated workforce, you could well find yourself in more trouble than when you started.
The key is reactivity, you need to carefully monitor your upscaling and re-assess your position on a regular basis in line with every micro behaviour your industry shows. And there are a range of cutting-edge solutions that can help you do this.
Firstly, the headache of acquiring the right premises. The course of action could be to look into temporary facilities that will provide that extra storage you need, but also give you a contingency and peace of mind that allows you to divest just as quickly and easily as you pumped the cash in. There are a range of prefabricated buildings, retractable canopies and easily portable buildings available that allow the flexibility that will be the name of the game in 2014.
And the same applies to personnel. Huge recruitment days, mass employment drives and training programmes are expensive. Slowly increase your workforce, taking advantage of temp agencies and do your best to implement a philosophy of on-the-job training.
All in all, next year has the potential to be an economic triumph. But if this is to be made a reality, we must make sure we don’t speculate too much, before we accumulate.