Adapting to cost pressures as an owner managed business

Article by Bishop Fleming.

Bishop Fleming is a partner for Growth Forge 2024, a business acceleration programme for ambitious tech companies. Learn more here.

How can owner-managed businesses deal with their cost pressures in an evolving landscape?

The third in our series dedicated to helping owner-managed businesses navigate their challenges in a changing landscape, focusses on navigating cost pressures.

See our other articles:

Cost pressures represent a significant challenge for owner-managed businesses, impacting profitability and sustainability. Bishop Fleming’s recent survey among its clients shed light on the escalating costs faced by businesses across various aspects, including materials, energy, and interest rates.

We examine key challenges and explore strategies for mitigating their impact:

Rising Costs Across the Board

From raw materials to energy expenses, owner-managed businesses are dealing with escalating costs across various areas of their operations.

Fluctuations in commodity prices, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical tensions contribute to the upward trajectory of costs, posing significant challenges for businesses of all sizes.

These rising costs erode profit margins and strain financial resources, necessitating proactive measures to contain expenses and maintain competitiveness.

Margin Pressure from Raw Material and Utility Prices

The relentless rise in raw material and utility prices exerts considerable pressure on profit margins, particularly for businesses operating in sectors heavily reliant on these factors.

Whether it is the cost of materials for manufacturing or energy bills for food and drink establishments, businesses are feeling the squeeze on their bottom line.

In industries where raw materials constitute a significant portion of production costs, even minor price fluctuations can have a profound impact on profitability, making cost management a top priority for business owners.

Challenges in Passing on Cost Increases to Customers

One of the most daunting challenges facing owner-managed businesses is the difficulty in passing on cost increases to customers.

In today’s competitive marketplace, consumers are increasingly price-sensitive, making it challenging for businesses to raise prices without risking customer loyalty or market share.

Moreover, the prevalence of price-comparison platforms and discount retailers further complicates pricing strategies, leaving businesses caught between the need to maintain profitability and the need to remain competitive.

Strategies for Mitigating Cost Pressures

Despite the challenges posed by rising costs, owner-managed businesses can employ various strategies to navigate these hurdles and safeguard their financial survival:

  • Cost Optimisation: Conduct a comprehensive review of expenses across all areas of the business to identify areas for cost savings and efficiency improvements. Implement measures such as renegotiating supplier contracts, optimising stock management, and investing in energy-efficient technologies to reduce operational costs.
  • Value Engineering: Explore opportunities to redesign products or processes to achieve cost savings without compromising quality or performance. Engage with suppliers and stakeholders to brainstorm innovative solutions that streamline production processes and minimise waste.
  • Strategic Pricing: Adopt a more nuanced approach to pricing that balances the need to cover costs with considerations of market dynamics and consumer preferences. Leverage pricing analytics and customer segmentation strategies to tailor pricing approaches to different market segments and maximise revenue opportunities.
  • Diversification and Innovation: Explore opportunities to diversify revenue streams and enter new markets to mitigate the impact of cost pressures in existing business lines. Embrace innovation and product differentiation to create value propositions that resonate with customers and justify premium pricing.
  • Financial Planning and Risk Management: Develop robust financial forecasting models and scenario analyses to anticipate and mitigate the impact of cost fluctuations on cash flow and profitability. Establish contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies to buffer against unforeseen shocks and disruptions.

Conclusion

Rising costs pose formidable challenges for owner-managed businesses, threatening to erode profitability and undermine competitiveness.

By adopting a more proactive approach to cost management, implementing strategic pricing strategies, and embracing innovation, businesses can navigate these challenges and emerge stronger and more resilient in the face of economic uncertainty.

Owner-managed business series

This is an ongoing series. Check out our other articles in the series:

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To find out how we can help you or your owner-managed business, please get in touch with Fleur Lewis

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