As we approach the end of the first quarter, it's a good time to take stock. From what we've seen so far, 2015 looks set to be another challenging year with volatile global markets causing disruptive change for many organisations. However, there are also plenty of opportunities for growth and those best set for success are adaptable and planning for change before it happens. To get the most from the remaining nine months, CEOs will need to look inwardly at all areas of their business, truly utilising the expertise and knowledge of their employees to get the ground-up insight that they need.
With time moving quickly and CEOs remits pushed to the max, we've taken a look at 4 areas that will be absolutely crucial when it comes to maximising financial success for the year.
The PwC Global CEO Survey 2015 revealed that a key concern for CEOs going into 2015 was staffing. 73% of CEOs expressed a concern for the availability of skills, up from 63% in 2014. Making sure that you have the right teams in place has become increasingly difficult as businesses clamour to compete for quality hires. As the need to increase your headcount presents itself, having expert advice on the state of the hiring market will be essential to ensure you can offer the benefits and salary needed to entice the best of the best without offering more than is necessary.
Another pressing issue for organisations is the undulating need for staff. As the market has recovered and new business is coming in you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure that there are no bottle necks due to a lack of resource. Contractors and freelancers can be costly but they could help to bridge the gap and ensure that you have a competitive advantage when it’s needed.
For candidates this marks a turning of the tides as demand outstrips supply. Opportunities to grow; diversify and move up the career ladder will be bountiful and those with their finger on the pulse will no doubt reap the rewards.
Opportunities and threats
With the competitive landscape constantly evolving, the ability to looking inwardly, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation will be essential. This can’t be done alone and those with the soft skills to make the most of their experienced staff will benefit the most. At the top it’s easy to become a little myopic but this is no time to be limited to high-level information. Utilising the middle tier, successful CEOs will be able to take a ground-up approach to transformation and change management. This flexibility and approach will ensure that as markets change and opportunities arise over the remainder of the year you’ll be in the perfect position, giving you an edge over your competitors.
One of the buzzwords for this year is diversification with 54% of CEOs telling the PwC survey that they have entered a new sector or considered it in the past 3 years. Is this the perfect time to extend your product line of service offering? Are there any opportunities to acquire companies with critical technology or advantage to allow you to strengthen your proposition?
Other opportunities will likely come from partnering with organisations and it’s clear that many CEOs are going down that route as outward pressures increase. As we see more diversification across the board it is clear that competition will increasingly come from other sectors or sub-sectors highlighting the need for adaptability in these turbulent times.
However, whilst the business world may be evolving at a rapid pace, calling for CEOs to be agile, long-term planning is still essential. Having an over-arching strategy of what you’re looking to achieve in the next 3-5 years ensures that you can make quick, tactical decisions as you’ll know whether they’re in line with, and will deliver towards, your long-term vision. There is a great book written by Simon Collard, entitled ‘Where is the Money’, which is specifically designed for agency CEOs (although much of the advice is useful for any business leader) and within this he devotes a chapter to developing a 5 year business plan.
With an unrelenting squeeze on your bottom line, ensuring that you are adapting to change and making use of technological advancements where possible will be crucial to both cutting costs and maximising profits. Analyse your current work processes and be brave by incorporating new technology; as long as it can help to streamline processes and reduce your resource cost. Technology isn’t the only area that will offer a cost saving and removing barriers between departments may offer more fluid work flows. Time is money and reducing time spent can offer some of the biggest savings.
A focus should certainly be on maximising return from current clients and services. By getting to know your customers or audience; understanding their pain points and focusing on how you can further meet their needs you will be able to increase your return. Your clients may not know that they need your help but if you can offer a solution to increase their efficiency or gain a competitive edge; you will be in an ideal place to expand your slice of the pie.
What’s critical for those CEOs running a service driven business though is ensuring that work is priced accurately and that they’re not over-servicing or allowing the scope of the project to expand beyond what was originally agreed, as these will all negatively impact on profit. It’s important to build good working relationships with clients but not if it causes you to lose money. Collard calls these elements ‘The 3 Deadly Sins’ and says that they’re generally behind all unsatisfactory profit margins. His book offers some good tips on avoiding falling into these traps.
If you don’t understand your company’s figures inside out then you won’t truly know how profitable your organisation is, and without this knowledge you won’t know what to focus on; recruitment, new business or cost cutting. You need to be confident that the numbers are accurately reflecting revenue and costs too. The recent high profile case of Tesco’s financial blunders served as a stark warning of what can happen if you’re working from inaccurate or inflated figures.
Collard’s book offers some simple advice to agency CEO’s on staying on top of your accounts and also provides a great list of the 10 numbers every agency CEO should know, as well as a table of key financial targets, which is useful for Chief Execs in any company.
Simply360 is a London based financial recruitment company with a passion for all things Marketing, Media, Technology, Digital and Entertainment.
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