The inflationary challenges of managing a business

Posted on 19th October 2023 by Streets What's trending?


Image to represent The inflationary challenges of managing a business

By James Pinchbeck, Marketing Partner


Managing a business during a period of high inflation certainly brings its own set of challenges. For some younger business people and perhaps even older ones, this is something that has not been faced before.

Perhaps explaining more about what inflation is might not be necessary as we are exercising the effects in our daily lives, but for context inflation is the sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services. It is a complex economic phenomenon that affects various aspects of an economy. Businesses, regardless of their size or industry, are not immune to the far-reaching consequences of inflation.

There are a number of key areas in which inflation impacts businesses, including:

Rising costs

One of the primary effects of inflation is the rise in overheads, and particularly for manufacturers, production costs. As prices for raw materials, energy and labour increase, businesses face higher operational expenses, squeezing profit margins.

Reduced Purchasing Power and customer demand

Inflation erodes the purchasing power of consumers as their money buys fewer goods and services over time. This can lead to decreased demand for non-essential items. Perhaps the hardest hit are those businesses that rely on discretionary consumer spending.

Uncertainty and Investment

Inflation introduces uncertainty into the business environment, making it difficult for business owners to plan for the future. Companies may become hesitant to make long-term investments or expansion plans due to the volatile economic conditions associated with inflation.

Wage Pressure

Inflation often leads to demands for higher wages from employees to maintain their real income levels. While businesses may be able to accommodate these wage hikes to some extent, they can further strain profitability.

Debt Burden

Businesses that carry debt are impacted by inflation in terms of their repayment obligations. While debts remain fixed in nominal terms, their real value decreases as inflation rises. However, this effect can be mitigated if the interest rates on loans also adjust for inflation.

Reduction in working capital

In light of increased costs, reduced customer demand, declining margins and customers given credit taking longer to pay, a number of businesses potentially faced a reduction in working capital. This is the life blood of the business in terms of its day-to-day operation.

There a number of steps that businesses can take to safeguard themselves from inflation. These include: 

Cost Management and Efficiency

Businesses can adopt rigorous cost management practices to optimise their operations and reduce wastage. Analysing supply chains, negotiating better deals with suppliers and streamlining internal processes can help mitigate the impact of rising costs.

Pricing Strategies

As input costs increase, businesses may need to adjust their pricing strategies. Carefully considering price hikes to reflect increased costs while remaining competitive is essential.

Re-engineering or re-imagining goods and services

In an attempt to maintain margin it might be a useful exercise to look at adapting what you do to see if there are lower cost alternatives that might still meet customer needs

Re-finance

It might be worthwhile reviewing how the business is financed and funded, perhaps an alternative funding arrangement and structures could help ease pressure.

Businesses can consider negotiating contracts that include inflation indexation clauses. This helps align revenue and expense adjustments with inflation, reducing the risk of financial imbalances.

Employee Benefits and Incentives

To manage wage pressures, businesses can offer performance-based bonuses and incentives rather than across-the-board wage rises. This approach ensures that employees are rewarded for their contributions while also maintaining cost control.

Measure and manage

When it comes to business finance, now is probably the time to focus on some important numbers including the business bank balance and the value of creditors and debtors, along with perhaps more frequent even daily cash flows.

Hopefully by combining some of these strategies with a keen understanding of market trends, business owners can safeguard their enterprises and foster resilience in the face of inflationary pressures.


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