December is finally here and we are gearing up to say farewell to 2019. But are we prepared for what is coming in 2020? During the past year, we all braved through challenging times - from a complete meltdown of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, to the persistent economic woes that resulted in the resignation of the Finance Minister, Asad Umer. Continued reports of the fall of Pakistan’s foreign reserves, rising prices on account of inflation, devaluation of the rupee, the IMF program – are only some of the highlights that influenced Pakistan’s economic landscape.
If I look back at the onset of 2019, our challenges were certainly greater than where we stand today. The currency appears to have stabilized, the current account deficit is shrinking thanks to a decline in imports and growing exports and the stock market has rebounded. While these are early signs of stabilization, the challenges remain. Inflation is still persistent, interest rates are high, our export base is very low and we have a tremendous amount of government debt. We are still not out of the woods yet!
So while I am optimistic that 2020 will be better than the past year, we must brace ourselves for continued challenges by keeping in mind the following approaches:
1. Celebrate victories
2020 may or may not turn out to be a year of huge wins. However, when confronted with challenges, it is our attitude towards unfavorable situations that often defines our own success. In crisis comes opportunity, and we should seize these opportunities in our respective quests for continuous improvement. And indeed there will be successes and these must be celebrated.
2. Be frugal
Running a business efficiently is not optional anymore. Every rupee spent needs to be scrutinized in terms of the ultimate value proposition. Unnecessary expenditures that ‘look and feel’ good but return nothing tangible to the business in the short or long term are best avoided.
3. Work with employees to build achievable goals
The first thing that gets impacted in the tough times is employee morale. It’s simple, really; the more someone feels they’ve achieved, the more driven they’ll be achieve more of the defined goals. At times like this, especially when starting out the New Year - pump your people up. Let them know that the burdens they carry are not theirs only.
4. Build Capabilities
In an earlier blogpost, I had stated that in an increasingly competitive business landscape, Pakistani companies are now aggressively competing with local and international brands on home turf. As category leaders / business pioneers, the ultimate win zeros in on one simple choice - to innovate! The new year requires reviewing our internal capabilities and flagging areas of improvements that benefit the organization and stakeholders at large.
It is still not clear whether the year 2020 will be one in which we turn the corner. But we all have a part to play in this story and we must remain steadfast in the face of challenges. Pakistan has an incredible amount of untapped potential and I am confident that if we seize the right opportunities this could very well be the year that Pakistan starts to emerge as one of the countries that could be the next big growth story.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year!