| Oct 12, 2022

Adjusting Your Business Strategies to Survive in an Economic Storm

With whispers of an economic downturn, many businesses are scrambling to prepare themselves to weather the storm. But with the right tools in your arsenal, your business can come out on the other side stronger than ever before.
By Tom Pachys |

4 minutes

With many signs of the U.S. entering a technical recession, businesses must act quickly to prepare for economic turbulence. While no organization is immune to challenges during a recession, with the right strategies and resources in place, your business can survive and even thrive in the face of uncertainty. It all comes down to the ability of your business to adapt and withstand change. 

Prioritize and Sacrifice

As a decision-maker, how often did you want to achieve something only to realize that your organization can’t or is resistant? It’s hard to move projects along during “normal” times because numerous projects immediately battle for attention. During tough times, working in the same way will be a disaster. You must focus on crucial milestones and plans that will be central to reaching your business goals. This may require making radical decisions and changes. 

When speaking with other CEOs about changes they have made because of reprioritization, it seems they are mostly confined to specific groups, forums, or individuals. Most of the organization is still anchored in decisions and priorities of the past. 

During turbulent times, the vast majority of the organization should tackle the newly defined goals. The question is, how can EVERY department contribute? Do you have the majority of your resources working on these new goals? If not, you’re doing this step wrong, and I cannot stress this enough. 

At my company, we’ve done an exercise of mapping what each person is working on. We were surprised that even after we prioritized and set concrete goals, people were “busy with other important things.” It required us to take almost every other project and task off the table and reassign people to the new priorities. By doing this, we’ve managed to significantly increase the number of people working towards the goals. Talent condensity grew, noise was reduced, and the need for managerial attention lessened. Our pace at achieving the newly defined goals was unprecedented. 

This prioritization mentality was a concept we used in early 2022. While many businesses were expanding their product offerings and looking at yearly objectives, we made decisions quarter by quarter. We started by examining what was working and what wasn’t. Then, if necessary, we pivoted and made changes for the next quarter. The goals were given to all departments, and leaders within them built a master plan and departmental plans on how to achieve the goals.

You will face resistance. This is a guarantee, and the first person to resist this new process will be you. Humans inherently fear the unknown, but everybody in your business should be motivated to solve the big business problems. Departmental efficiency doesn’t reflect organizational efficiency. Optimize for organizational efficiency through flexible goals and team collaboration. To combat the resistance, I’ve shared ideas that have worked for us below.


Maintain Transparency

During turbulent times, the more transparent you can be with your team members, the safer they’ll feel. With rising inflation and a stalled stock market, we’ve seen waves of layoffs from well-known companies, leading many employees to worry about job security

Uncertainty can be stressful, but being honest with your team can alleviate anxiety and help them stay focused on business goals. Explain why you are focusing on a specific project/goal and why it takes precedence over the important task they were working on before – they’ll be more motivated to pitch in when they understand the significance of the work. 

We all want to feel that our work matters. By defining the objective’s impact on the business and allowing everybody to contribute to the most critical company goals, people will feel pride in their efforts and know they’ve made an impact on the company’s success. During a financial downturn, you may not be able to reward your team with bonuses or parties, but transparency can go a long way and is a perk – one many employees want and appreciate. 

Encourage Collaboration 

An organization’s structure is never fully aligned with the objectives and goals at hand. Occasional org changes, or OKR and similar methodologies, are solving (among other things) for better collaboration and alignment between groups in order to achieve the organizational goals. I’m an advocate for both frequent org changes and the OKR method, but timing might not be ideal for executing on either now. From our experience, we’ve seen a huge impact by setting objectives, goals/key results, and allocating a cross-organizational group to achieve them. The coherency, unity, collaboration, and resource allocation resulted in happier people and fully achieved goals.  

Uncertain times are the ideal scenario in which you should knock down the silos, bring everyone together, and allow them to collaborate. When you connect teams that don’t usually work together, you enable them to learn from each other and strive towards the same goals. I often refer to it as “uniting against a common enemy,” which is essential in times of recession. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, uniting together helped people survive and flourish. The same concept applies to companies. More can be accomplished with a collaborative team than in separate silos, mentally and operationally. 

It’s human nature to resist change. But when you have a high-priority project, it’s a motivating opportunity for your team members to work together on something truly important to the company.

Stay Focused But Flexible

Running your day-to-day business and running your business during uncertain times require two different mindsets and approaches. I believe tough times necessitate focus and collaboration – having forces strive for one goal. 

Flexibility is an essential element of success. Don’t be afraid to adjust if something isn’t working. Often, companies can be too rigid and create mechanisms that make change impossible. Sometimes they get so caught up in the tasks rather than where the tasks are taking them. 

At times, we have made choices other companies may view as radical, but those decisions make our business more efficient and effective. That’s what matters in the end.

Tom Pachys
Executive Author

CEO & Co-Founder, EX.CO

EX.CO co-founder and CEO Tom Pachys began building websites when he was 12 years old. Today, he helps companies drive meaningful revenue by making websites more personalized and interactive. view profile


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