Making tough business decisions

Josh Levy, chief executive officer of specialist asset based lender, Ultimate Finance

Now that the UK has officially left the EU and we enter a potentially rocky transition period, businesses need to make tough decisions in order to weather the headwinds of 2020 and beyond. Considering recent events dominating the news with the spread of the COVID-19 virus this has become even more of a priority to address. Supply chain issues and possible reduced business activity become an even bigger threat to cashflow.

This means continued challenging times ahead, but Ultimate Finance is ready to support UK’s businesses to ensure they keep moving in the right direction.

Managing a business can often mean making painful decisions in the short term, but maintaining a clear focus on long-term value creation has often proven to be the optimal approach and research shows that it is worth it in the long run. The McKinsey Global Institute found that companies operating with a genuine long-term mindset consistently outperformed their industry peers across a broad range of metrics, such as revenue and profit-growth.

Since becoming CEO at Ultimate Finance last year, I have had to make big decisions about our future direction with the key principle being prioritising our core strengths and specialist areas. This led to us moving away from providing unsecured loans and focusing exclusively on the secured lending market where the quality of our customer service gives us points of differentiation around speed, flexibility and personal touch. This change supports our view that asset-based lending with dedicated personal relationship management is the best option for SMEs to access flexible long-term capital.

We face many of the same challenges as our clients in managing change through periods of tough decision-making, particularly decisions that impact upon jobs. It’s important that all staff are treated with respect and it is impossible to communicate too much about the business reasons underpinning decisions. Suspicion among staff is natural, which can be negative in the immediate short term, and trust may have to be rebuilt but this is eminently possible if management approach this in the right way.

In times like these, it’s also important to have a robust business continuity plan in place which is adopted by staff and suppliers alike. In the case of COVID-19, and other extreme situations, some of the issues you may need to think about are supply chains, employees, cashflow and travel.

At Ultimate Finance we have such a business continuity plan in place and, as well as our commitment to ensuring the health and welfare of our employees, including providing a safe place of work, our top priority is that we are living up to our promise to ‘keep business moving’ and continuing to deliver the excellent level of service and support our clients have come to expect.

Businesses shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from their wider network. It’s best to have the right people with good experience to provide support through tough times. At Ultimate Finance our forward-thinking approach has allowed us to make changes from a position of strength and define a clear future vision centred around how we can best serve our clients and emphasise our value proposition. As part of the Tavistock Group we benefit from long-term backing which underpins our continued appetite to support businesses through change and focus on disciplined growth and delivery. With COVID-19, getting support is important, and having the right funding partner along with debtor protection insurance, might help your business through these uncertain times.