3 tips for SMEs in times of political uncertainty

5th July, 2016

If you’re a fan of stability, you’re not living in the right year.

But take heart. If you own a small business, you’re living through what could be one of the best opportunities of your business career.

Consider the changes we’ve seen in just the last few weeks.

First, the fallout from the British referendum to leave the European Union – a decision and process that still isn’t complete.

Now Australians are awaiting the outcome of a national election. The outcome remains unclear, but at this point it looks as though a more diverse Senate will mean any government, minority or otherwise, will have a hard time passing any legislation.

The effect on business confidence

For many businesses, political uncertainty can be a drag on confidence. Not knowing what’s happening either politically or economically can make it difficult to make long-term decisions.

Consider the $20,000 instant asset write-off. The Turnbull government pledged to have this apply to the 2016–17 financial year. But without a budget passed, no hint of which government will come to power – and an even more difficult senate to navigate – it’s questionable whether that policy will even make it through legislative channels.

The opportunity for small business

Uncertainty isn’t new.

In fact, it’s a sign that you have some awesome opportunities on your hands. For some, that opportunity might be hard to see, but it’s definitely there to seize.

For some businesses, the initial instinct might be to hunker down. To save cash, become conservative and avoid any strategy that might rock the boat.

But that bears thinking through. Without blowing all your cash reserves, now could be a good time to look for distinct, strategic opportunities to expand your business and let people know that you’re still kicking.

Yesterday, we took a Twitter poll asking small business owners whether the political instability in Australia had forced them to delay any spending decisions. Nearly three quarters of our 750+ respondents said “no”.

Twitter poll

Businesses know that being resilient in the face of uncertainty is not only an operational necessity – it could be a defining opportunity.

So, what can you do to take advantage of this environment?

1. Pump up your marketing

Now is the time to really live an ‘always on’ marketing mindset. Identify marketing channels that are most effective for your business and refine your messaging for each.

Your positioning should project stability. Remember, an uncertain political environment flows through to spending decisions. If your business portrays itself as stable and dependable, it’s a big tick in your favour.

2. Refine your value proposition

Consider value-add or other propositions you can combine with your current offerings. What’s something related to your current service that you could start doing for free or cheaply?

During uncertainty and turmoil it’s hard to convince people to spend money on a complicated proposition, or one that’s difficult to understand. Invest time and resources in making your products and your brand, including your website and marketing materials, easy to understand.

Keep it simple. Reduce the number of points where you’re likely to lose a customer – whether it be on a website, brochure, or even in a face-to-face sales pitch.

3. Invest in infrastructure

Need some equipment but been putting the purchase off for a while? Now’s the time to invest.

Invest strategically. Look at database tech that can reveal more information and patterns about consumer behavior.

Think about communication systems like Slack that can save you cash and your employees’ time.

Still using computers that are five years old, or routers that are slowing down your internet connection? Upgrade ’em. Now’s not the time to be slowed down by aging technology.

Here’s the kicker: make sure you invest in technology that allows you to actually gain insights, which lead to action, and ultimately sales. Data warehousing and business analytics are great. But if you can’t gain insights from them, then what’s the point?

We might be facing an uncertain political environment, but that doesn’t mean your business needs to suffer. Take control, be active – and what you can accomplish might surprise you.