It’s time to be positive (without a positive bias)

It's time to be positive (without a positive bias)

Stephen Longley
Business Restructuring Services Leader, Deals

In Business Restructuring Services (BRS), we work side by side with executives, business owners, and boards to help them navigate their biggest operational, commercial, and financial challenges. Our work is diverse and can be a function of macroeconomic, sector, or company-specific factors. 

The common denominator? There are always challenges.

Some are minor. Some are major. But because our senior team has managed businesses through a raft of tough situations, we have a unique empathy for our clients and the stakeholders we deal with.

Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, and in an increasingly uncertain economic and geopolitical environment, we remain convinced that the challenges faced by corporate Australia do have several potential solutions. What’s more, our team is committed to helping our clients find these solutions. This doesn’t mean it will be easy and, in fact, it’s much more challenging to problem-solve now than it was 12 months ago. So, what do we advise?

Three top tips for navigating the rest of 2022-3

While our team is always considering an array of issues, we’ve singled out our three top tips for navigating the remainder of 2022 and into 2023:

1.  Be positive, but don’t have a positive bias

The overall environment in Australia is still relatively positive. However, there are enough warning signals to suggest businesses should plan for a range of macro and micro scenarios. Our motto is: ‘Be positive, but don’t have a positive bias towards what’s going on around you.’ One of our biggest learnings through previous business cycles or shocks is that many people only want to look at optimistic and best-case scenarios. As such, they don’t plan accordingly. 

Remember, just because you’re planning for something difficult doesn’t mean you’re negative; it means you’re prepared.

2.  Active cash management is back in vogue

In the current environment (think: supply chain disruptions, inflation, interest rate hikes, and tightening capital markets), active cash management is once again in vogue. We haven’t seen this level of focus on cash management since 2012, and certainly not during the 2020-21 early-pandemic era of fast and loose money.

The challenge for businesses is that most companies are ill-equipped in the three primary areas required to manage and improve cash. Namely, cash culture, methodology, and capability. We’ll continue to focus on these areas because cash is the oxygen that breathes life into any successful turnaround or transformation.

3. “If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else” – Yogi Berra, baseballer

Business turnarounds are complex, challenging, and often require several short-term actions. While immediate action is all well and good, when it comes to business transitions it’s equally important to know where you’re trying to get to in three - five years’ time. 

We recommend focusing on three areas:

  1. Employees and stakeholders need a ‘north star’ to guide them through a transition, especially given periods of change can require some give and take from everyone involved. 

  2. If you’re changing a business and its operating model, it’s critical the new model survives the test of time and aligns with your owners’ investment horizons.

  3. Consider the impact of super trends such as technology, decarbonisation, and ethical, social and governance issues.

In summary, it’s best to not ride the daily news cycle or ever-changing opinions of economists. Focus on what you can control in your business, consider all possible scenarios and plan your potential responses.

More information 

Find out more about Business Restructuring Services or about a career in deals

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Stephen Longley
Business Restructuring Services Leader

"Our motto is ‘Be positive, but don’t have a positive bias towards what’s going on around you’. You need to assess and plan for the various scenarios which could impact your business in these uncertain times. Just because you’re planning for something difficult doesn’t mean you’re negative; it means you’re prepared."