As an old Czech saying goes, it’s only during the bad times that you find out who your real friends are. During the recent crisis, company owners and directors all over the world have been discovering the truth about their businesses and their teams. Over the past few years, Czech businesses, which had been dealing with the challenges of managing growth during the early 1990’s, have learned an invaluable lesson from the economic and financial crisis. The leaders of these companies have had to learn to manage their businesses in times of plummeting demand and fast-changing consumer preferences.
Despite the hardship, more than half of Czech CEOs are at least somewhat confident that their companies will grow this year. Confidence in their business is one of the key lessons that they have learned over the past few years. They know how to manage their firms; they have a keen understanding of their business model, but at the same time, they need to be keenly aware of what’s going on in global markets. They understand that the future development of the Czech economy is extremely dependant on the outcome of the eurozone fiscal crisis, the state of the global economy and its key movers: the emerging economies of China and India, as well as the United States and especially Germany.
But how can you predict the growth of these economies when not even large international institutions can come up with reliable forecasts? How do you make sense of what the governments of indebted countries are planning to do to fix their public finances? How is it going to impact demand, commodity prices, exchange rates and investment prospects? All of these questions are crucial for the future success of Czech business, but they are far beyond what Czech business leaders and owners can influence, or even fully understand.
They can still take advantage of a stable economy, healthy banking sector, pragmatic financial market regulations, and a government willing to make reforms. While we can do little to influence major global players, and we continue to battle corruption and bureaucracy, the Czech Republic certainly isn’t in such bad shape.
Successful managers, owners, and business leaders (and our study shows that there are many) have already figured out that the answer to hard times is not thoughtless cost-cutting and massive lay-offs, but selective management of costs, inputs and cash. More importantly companies are looking to generate new ideas and innovation, while better understanding customers and maintaining good relationships with them. A number of successful Czech CEOs and business owners show us that even in established, traditional areas it is possible to stand out from the competition.
In fact, it takes relatively little - understand what your customers truly want, and sell it to them in a way that they understand and appreciate.