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Business Leader: Adopt a growth mindset to grow your company in an inflationary economy!

In this article, first published in Business Leader, Pavlo looks to the white ant or termite to make a point about how inflation eats away at your business’s value.

The white ant, otherwise known as a termite, it’s a formidable little creature with an impressive set of jaws. They eat wood at a voracious rate and do so through the inside, not on top. Spotting them at work is only discovered when your foot lands on a floorboard and crashes through. It earned the term “white-anting”, analogous to how unforeseen forces unravel and disassemble efforts to create, build and sustain whatever it is you are doing.

White-anting aptly describes the corrosive impact of inflation on a business. Having last seen sustained inflation levels, in tandem with their ugly partner, rising interest rates, over 44 years ago, most of us would be far too young to remember the antidotes and counter strategies we can deploy across our business to sustain and, in fact, grow during such periods.

In this series titled ‘The inflation white ant‘, I’ll share six practical strategies to counter the corrosive effects of inflation on our companies and our state of mental well-being. I’ll draw the insights from companies I work with and share practical strategies and tactics to counter the value destruction inflation brings and the growth opportunities it opens.

Approaching inflation with a growth mindset is imperative

It anchors you in the reality of the economy rather than a wait-and-see hopeful one. It also lets you see, feel and understand the changes inflation ushers into the economy, allowing for inspired and bold action.

The shock of our stubbornly high current inflation rate and the ongoing litany of dire economic news feeds uncertainty in decisions and actions. Yet, he who hesitates is lost, and the decision, no, the discipline of maintaining a growth mindset, yields inspired positive actions. It’s the difference between leading or following and stepping boldly into this economy on the front foot with the advantages that it brings.

Inflation erodes what you have at a compounded level. Hesitating to invest in growth today means the same investment will be more expensive tomorrow. Add to that the opportunity cost of hesitation or indecision.

I recently met a business owner considering investing in a new lathe. We ran the numbers, and the acquisition would collectively increase productivity by almost 7%. That increase lent itself to more competitive pricing, improved quality, and the opportunity to outbid competitors and grow market share. At that time, the media was filled with dire forecasts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, further driving energy and food costs. Doomsday Sayers weighed in heavily, accurately forecasting the inflationary prices we’d all have to bear. Hesitating, this business owner opted to wait for a more certain economic forecast.

March forward eight months, interest rates rose, and any possible debt funding dried up. The lathe’s price, including transport and commissioning, has increased by 15,8%.

The same month, a client in a similar industry took a different approach

They opted to invest in a new fleet of delivery trucks. The numbers showed us that the new fleet would increase productivity by an estimated 6% due to increased fuel efficiency, amongst other gains. It would also improve the company’s “green rating”, opening doors to EU-based clients that required such accreditations before accepting them as a new vendors. Nine months on, productivity improved by 4%, and they landed five new clients.

The differences between these two business owners are stark and lie in their mindsets. Both business owners live and breathe in the same economy. The growth mindset saw the future economy as an opportunity to act and grow in the face of the rising costs customers would face by getting ahead to improve productivity. As costs rose, he maintained pricing off the back of his reduced cost base. It earned him new clients, many at the cost of his competitors, that had to raise pricing. Literally ‘across the road’, the hesitation of the passive mindset lost the productivity gains that the investment would have ushered in time to meet the demand for improved pricing from customers under pressure.

A growth mindset is half what you need to thrive in an inflationary economy. The other half is a growth plan designed to capitalise on it.


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