The current and immediate economic outlook paints a dark, worrying picture for business owners across the UK, and the world. With soaring energy bills, fuel prices rocketing and the costs of supplies increasing across all industries, many businesses will be facing a huge uphill struggle over the coming months and years.
We spoke to Nordens’ Director of Strategic Consultancy, Joe Sword, on the health of the economy, the role that mindset plays in overcoming challenges and adversity, and what more can be done to achieve a positive mental outlook…
What is your honest outlook on the state of the economy and the current cost of living crisis?
There’s no point sugar coating it, it’s really tough out there and that is clear and obvious. I believe the majority of businesses will be in line for a short to medium term spell of discomfort, which of course will have a detrimental effect on the economy in general. It was inevitable that there’d be some sort of backlash attributed to COVID-19, but what we didn’t foresee is the atrocities going on in Ukraine, which has almost certainly magnified the issue and caused severe disruptions to the global economy. There’s no point predicting specifics, in terms of inflation percentages and interest rates, as we’ve seen how quickly markets can fluctuate
The next 9-18 months I predict will be very difficult for a large proportion of the public, however I’m confident that we will rebound stronger and use the experience of the turmoil of the pandemic to get us through the immense challenges ahead. With more robust businesses and more cost and value conscious individuals it will ensure good work will be rewarded, and money, resources and effort will be wasted less.
Do you think that many business owners are in a solid position to deal with the uncertainty and predicted downturn, both in mindset and logistically?
This all depends on a variety of factors and variables. For example, those who experiences huge disruptions to business operations during the pandemic are likely to be in a great position as they will have the experience and preparation behind them to face the challenge of recession ahead. Saying that, a huge factor will boil down to some basic things you can do to ensure you’ve established a solid foundation in your business.
Knowing your numbers and regularly going over your cashflow forecasts is one of the best things logistically you can do in a business. If you look at your personal cashflow and budget, you tend to focus on it more during a recession or economic downturn, therefore this should be no different in business.
At the side of that, if things aren’t going right or you’re feeling completely burnt out it’s so important to speak out and seek support. This is equally as crucial as anything logistic going on in your business, as essentially your mindset will impact your business from top down. This way, if decisions are made through a positive mindset, they will be informed with logic behind them which places you in the strongest possible position to fight the tide ahead.
From what I’ve seen, it’s still a very mixed bag of those businesses who are in a solid, positive, commanding position by default already, those business who have been forced previously to re-evaluate, reassess and prepare as a result of the pandemic, and many businesses who aren’t planning, forecasting or seeking the support needed who will ultimately struggle in the long run.
How important is having a positive mindset during a recession, or facing adversity in general, and what are the best ways to achieve this?
Personally, for me, having a positive mindset is the most important tool in your arsenal and something which should never be understated. Of course, saying it is easier than actually having it, or doing the work to achieve it. Everyone faces adversity and challenges, and ultimately this is inevitable in all aspects of life. When things are looking bleak, speaking up and being supported are necessary. This is something I’m proud of in our Strategic department here at Nordens during our accountability meetings. Just by asking regularly, ‘are things OK?’, it creates a safe environment where clients trust us when confiding about issues which are really troubling them, both professionally and personally.
In tough times, you really need to drill down and do some soul searching to seek out that passion which determines why you do what you do. When times are good and you’re riding a high, it’s so easy to feel upbeat but when challenges and obstacles are faced it’s difficult keeping up that progressive attitude. Doing work on yourself, whether that be through therapy, exercise or doing the things you love, are all critical in achieving that positive mindset. A healthy mind and body are the two weapons which ultimately make the difference between success and failure. Avoiding negative stimulations such as scrolling endlessly through social media or the news, is again an aspect which is essential in the need to relax and destress. Only you know the things or the people who put your mind in that happy place, so associating with them naturally sow the seeds for achieving that positive mindset.
Emotional attachment is a common thought process as a business owner. How do you identify a good medium of emotional attachment in business and how can this impact if not correct?
Emotion is a fantastic thing, and is something which differentiates us from all other species. It brings out passion and drive within us and is almost certainly the main component in many people’s choice to start their own business. However, there needs to be a balance. Having too much passion and drive to succeed can often lead to irrational thinking, which is a sure-fire cocktail to breed negativity in your mindset and your business.
This is where it’s vital to have trusted people and advisors around you that have your best interests at heart, whilst being able to see through that cloud of emotion which can hold the business back. A strategic advisor, like ourselves, will help incorporate the right level of logic into your decision-making, which is something that often your close support network of family, friends, or team, can’t necessarily do.
Another thing to really keep in mind is that often your initial reaction to something is usually not the best one to act on. The human brain is designed to instantaneously feel emotion in everything we do or experience. Writing down your feelings and emotions on a piece of paper or in a document, and then returning to it in an hour or so, allows you to assess your emotions from a calm, logical standpoint. Once you get into this habit, it allows you to spot those red flags of an emotionally-heavy response, and then act accordingly with composure, rationale, and coherence.
Do you feel there is a big enough focus on mindset and mental health in business, particularly in terms of a business owner, or does there need to be more support and resources available?
We’re definitely moving in the right direction with mental health as a whole, with businesses focussing and investing in their HR and the wellbeing of their staff. Seeing public figures across all industries coming out and talking about their mental health is very encouraging to see, and I think this will continue.
More can always be done however, and I think this should fall on the government’s list of priorities. Offering more support and resources to employers, and not just employees, I think is very important and something we’re not really seeing that on a wide scale when talking about mental health in the workplace. The business owner, or employer, is often seen as the figurehead to carry the responsibility of all human beings, their emotions and their struggles, without there being a strong enough focus on their own mental health.
This is why when dealing with many of our strategic clients, who are most often than not business owners, we feel a duty to support, care for them and make them feel like they’re not alone. This is what needs to be done on a national level, particularly as these business owners are fundamental to the future of the economy.
We hope this has outlined to the importance of mental health in business, as well as highlighted some of the services we offer here at Nordens. If you require any further information on any anything mentioned, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.