What to do?
Being agile enough to rise amid disruption must also be balanced against determining what your business needs to look like in five years. This is the duality of growth: defending and extending the business of today while growing the business of tomorrow.
Some may decide to take a wait-and-see approach, particularly with next year’s US presidential election. But the time to act is now. We recommend the following strategies:
Revamp your cost structure
It’s essential to reduce operating costs through increasingly flexible and global workforces, automation, technology and other means. Start by stress testing your overhead and cost structure using multiple reduced volume and profit scenarios. Evaluate the need to reduce management layers. Look at turning to the gig economy to achieve greater labor flexibility, rationalize your real estate footprint, and use smart sensors and artificial intelligence to increase operating equipment efficiency and promote predictive maintenance in your factories.
Optimize your capital structure. A comprehensive capital structure review can help identify areas for improvement and more closely align desired flexibility with corporate strategy, as well as prepare for downside scenarios. Release working capital as a means to increase liquidity or de-lever. And be sure to evaluate the tax considerations before any capital structure changes to avoid unintended consequences.
Redefine the business model. In the future, owning all parts of production may not be necessary. Examine what pieces of the business model must be owned and controlled, and what can be operated better by a partner who may have a more flexible and lower-cost structure. Review the supply chain for ways to cut costs and increase flexibility.
Reassess the portfolio. If a business no longer fits the company’s core, it should be considered for divestment, and if there are gaps in the offerings, they need to be filled organically or through acquisitions (in a tax-efficient manner). Make decisions on your businesses and offerings that are informed by and based on data.
And reshape. In tumultuous times, it’s good to apply old rules in new ways. This encompasses actions like those we’ve described above, along with shifting fixed costs to variable costs, rapidly transforming your profits and performing continuous scenario planning using advanced analytics.