Small and medium Australian businesses should be preparing to pounce on growth opportunities, according to a leading business advisor, Coraggio’s Steve White.
The former investment banker and now finance sector Non-Executive Director said businesses should be looking to take advantage of emerging ‘green shoots’.
“I know a lot of people are feeling that times are tough, but good follows bad and businesses that are ready to take advantage of opportunities will succeed,” Mr White said.
“This is the time for businesses to prepare for the worst and anticipate the best.”
His advice to business owners is simple: be prepared and be patient.
With decades of experience in capital markets, foreign exchange and commodities, Mr White maintains a keen eye for global trade influences, such as current US/China trade relations.
“If we see the US and China come to a trade agreement, and some stable politics in the US, there’s every reason to be optimistic and expect continued strength in global equity markets,” he said.
“We are in a very low-interest-rate environment, with stagnant wages and low growth and it looks like these conditions will continue for some time.”
These are the conditions, according to Mr White, when businesses should be looking to reinvest profits and consider acquisitions.
But this can be challenging, particularly for new business owners unfamiliar with the ebbs and flows of the marketplace.
“There are small businesses out there that know what to do but need coaching to maintain the discipline and stay on track,” said Mr White, who is one of ten Business Advisory Board Chairs with Coraggio.
“There are others that need a big mind shift to see what’s ahead of them. It’s really important to keep it simple and be prepared to take the decisions needed without overcomplicating things.”
Coraggio is Italian for ‘courage’. And that’s exactly what Mr White believes business owners must bring to the table.
“All business owners can benefit from other perspectives,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a gentle nudge from others to give business owners permission to cut those services that don’t make money, or look seriously at their overheads, rather than simply carry on with business as usual.”
Reducing debt, strengthening cash flow and exploring potential opportunities to acquire struggling competitors are a recipe for growth that Mr White says should be on every successful business plan.
“It’s okay to be conservative, but they need to be ready to pounce on opportunities,” he said.
“They should be reviewing the competitor landscape and looking at opportunities to merge or acquire to improve returns.”
This advice might sound like ‘tough love’ for some business owners, but with more than 60% of Australian small businesses closing their doors within their first three years, it’s a message that many need to hear.
“I can’t emphasise enough the importance of being prepared,” Mr White said.
Around 300 business owners in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane meet monthly to share their business plans, priorities and performance with their Coraggio Advisory Board who then debate, brainstorm and strategise to drive the best outcome for the individual and their business.