Philie Group Blog

Three Paths for Uncertain Times
By Mike Philie

What’s the economy going to do, what will the cost of borrowing be, and will you have enough people to staff your operation? And yes, what are your customers seeing in their business? All valid concerns for business leaders during uncertain times. Your options aren’t always crystal clear, even with a solid growth plan and a best-in-class leadership team in place. As you consider the path that you will take, you’ll have to find your comfort zone within the “risk mitigation – growth strategy” spectrum.

It’s hard to believe that any company is completely on either end of the risk­ – growth spectrum. Rather, it’s usually somewhere in the middle. Where your business falls may depend on where you stand on these key areas:

  • How is the financial strength of your business
  • What is your tolerance for risk and appetite for change
  • The strength and depth of your client relationships
  • The experience and agility of your people
  • Your go to market strategy and how well you execute it
  • The depth and breadth of your technology and workflows

I like to do things in threes, so let’s look at three options you could consider. All three of these options are viable, so let’s explore what they could mean for your business. The first option is to do nothing, just hunker down and behave like its business as usual. Firms have done this in the past, and in cases it’s worked out just fine. If you feel confident about the key issues listed above, this may be a strategy for you.

The second option is to retreat, cut expenses and staff, and prepare for the worst. You’ll have to weigh how well your company will do if in fact there is a downturn in the economy. If cash has been tight, or you’re not clear on the direction your clients are going, this may be a consideration for your business.

The third option is to look at the environment as a glass half full. This may be the route you take if you want to focus on how to be a better company coming out of this uncertainty, than you were going into it. History has shown us that companies that use uncertain times as an opportunity to leapfrog the competition have fared well. In order to succeed with this option, you need to be clear eyed with your position in the key issues listed above. Your tolerance for risk needs to be strong, and the culture of your organization needs to be agile and thrive on change.

All these options carry an amount of risk. For that matter, just running a business comes with risk. The path you take should be well thought out and include hypothetical what-ifs. Include your senior team in the planning and don’t be hesitant to lean on your trusted advisors and peers to solicit their input as well. Also, be prepared to succeed with your contingency plan, should that be necessary.

I’m sure there’s a fourth option as well, so if you’ve done something different and would like to share, let us know in the comments below. Good luck and have fun.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


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