With global unrest and consumer prices reaching historically high levels, it seems inflation will be with us for a while. And the effects are tangible both for consumers and business owners- vulnerable markets, fluctuating rates, economic instability and price shocks.
The consequences are even harder for individuals on a fixed paycheck as housing, transport, food and utility costs continue to climb up and day-to-day life seems unbearably expensive.
How do you combat (and maybe even benefit from) inflation as a consumer or as a business owner?
AS A CONSUMER
1. Cut costs: Just believe that this is the first step and probably your best bet.
Limit your wants. List out all the things you regularly buy and see if you really need them. Identify your problematic spending habits and deal with them. Then, start looking for additional trims in consumption- unnecessary streaming services, eating out, taxis, etc.
Now, be determined to find lower prices. Buy cheaper variants of common items. Shop when there are better deals. Prepare your meals at home and use cheaper ingredients if possible. Try to keep these habits even when you start earning more.
2. Invest in good businesses: Many people might not notice but opportunities multiply during inflation so keep an eye on those stocks. And stay informed- some sectors will even record increased sales during this period.
Look out for those businesses that need little capital and those that can easily increase prices during inflation. This way, they won’t be drastically affected since they will be able to take care of their own increasing cost with greater income.
3. Diversify your portfolio: Get interested in and start learning high-demand skills in different industries. The more you learn, the more you’re able to earn even in a challenging economy.
Don’t just sit there waiting for things to go back to ‘normal’. Enjoy your hobbies, but if there’s a way to earn from any of your skills, don’t sleep on it. Gain more knowledge, seek opportunities to grow and get to work.
AS A BUSINESS OWNER
1. Be ready: Inflation is very volatile so be flexible in your planning so you can respond as quickly as possible and stay ahead of the competition.
Don’t assume inflation will play in your favour, Regularly review your business strategy and make necessary changes.
2. Be strategic with pricing: Find out which costs have changed and adjust your prices to fit the market value. You should, however, consider the customers, cost of raw materials and the competition.
Monitor the product demand and make sure customers still want your products or at least can afford what you’re now selling at.
3. Increase customer communication: Consumers feel a lot of uncertainty during inflation- so assure them that your brand is committed to them and will prioritise their needs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and tweak your products/ services to meet market demand.
4. Cut costs wisely: You might be tempted to radically change your business structure- using substandard materials or doing all the work by yourself. Go slow.
Keep your committed staff but be transparent about necessary (possibly temporary) cuts- especially with redundant or excess expenses.
Automate the work processes if possible- to reduce labour cost and increase overall productivity.
Prices will go up but it doesn’t necessarily mean doom. You need to understand inflation to beat it.
So learn more about stocks and get all the help you need if that’s what you need to do. Learn to negotiate, diversify your spendings and maintain discipline as you plan for the future.