Extract from View From Asia, fDi magazine, Financial Times, London, Aug 2019

Economic and business cycles are a way of life for governments and businesses to manage and surf on a best effort basis amidst continuous ambiguity, blocks, complications and disruptions (ABCDs). Since I started writing for this column back in May 2005, I’ve lost count of the bearish economic outlooks as well as bullish recoveries.

Even the Big One in 2008 came, hit, went and many businesses reinvented themselves and progressed after some painful adjustments. If one fears headwinds and only ride tailwinds, then piloting a business is a wrong career move.

One should not be unduly worried as we read some media articles, academic scholar or Dr Doom prattling over fearful headwinds of recessions and some writer espousing how he/she pretends to know the mythical universal magic bullet solution.

A prolong global recession should be the only major source of concern when business flows simply evaporate. Then, the only option is to drastically cut arms and limbs to allow the business head to survive and tide out the years of ravage since in those times, government aid programmes cannot sustain supporting all businesses to survive, and probably only support bigger companies which employ more workers. SMEs’ best option is to grow prudently and remain frugal in their investment during their bullish years and save for the bearish ones.

A upbeat tailwind reminder: Asia’s economy comprises more than 4.5 billion people, has 60% of the world population living in 49 different nations and opportunities and hot spots are always present.

Government trade officers should continue studying these constantly evolving opportunities and hot spots on different levels (country, industry, cluster, tier 1 to 3 city level, etc), review what policies and programmes need adjustment and then actively communicate and reach out to support their local businesses.

Businesses executives are increasingly hiring more in-house Strategy Directors to keep monitoring of the changing ABCDs, government policies and regulations, competitor moves and customer tastes and preferences in order to quickly advise their senior management on business impact analysis and recommend optimum moves. Digitisation transformation will help many companies although impact and speed will vary. Most important is to keep your KYC (Know Your Customer) profiling current and improve product and service offerings to maintain high NPS.

Recession? Don’t let it discourage you. Research constantly, maintain your strategic planning, keep upgrading organisational competencies and happy customers will always sustain your business in vast Asia goldmine of opportunities. Fighting!

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