How To Sustain Your Business in Inflation

The recent rise in the dollar-to-naira exchange rate presents a significant challenge for Nigerian businesses. This depreciation of the naira impacts everything from import costs to foreign investment, squeezing profit margins and demanding strategic adaptation. However, amidst these difficulties, with proper planning, companies can develop strategies to sustain operations despite currency fluctuations.

Understanding the Impact 

The rise in the naira-to-dollar rate affects businesses in multiple ways. Import-dependent companies face increased costs, while exporters may benefit from more competitive pricing in international markets. However, the overarching effect is uncertainty, which can stifle investment and growth.  

Strategic Adaptation  

To sustain and grow in such an environment, businesses must adopt a multi-faceted approach:

Diversification of Currency Risk

Companies should consider invoicing in multiple currencies to mitigate the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. This strategy can protect against sudden drops in the Naira’s value.

Renegotiate Contracts 

Existing import contracts denominated in dollars will become more expensive. Proactively renegotiate with suppliers to adjust pricing to account for FX swings. Phase in incremental naira price increases. Absorbing the full increase at once may not be sustainable.

Seek Local Alternatives 

Substitute imported inputs, raw materials or finished products with locally available alternatives wherever possible, even if inferior in quality. This limits foreign exchange needs. Partner with domestic manufacturers to replicate import items.

Increase Prices Strategically

Avoid pricing products based on simple currency conversions. Gradually increase naira prices in sync with local demand and competitors’ moves. Boost marketing to highlight product value exceeding price hikes. Offer discounts and financing options to ease customer transition.

Lobby for Tax Relief

Petition industry groups to lobby the government for tax subsidies, incentives and holidays to aid local businesses facing imported inflation. This relief can offset the burden of higher FX costs and support domestic job retention.

Negotiate Discounts

Approach vendors and suppliers across the value chain to negotiate any discounts or price reductions available. Bulk purchasing, guaranteed loyalty and prompt payment may spur discounts to cushion the naira impact over time.

Automate Operations

Leverage automation technology to cut labor costs through streamlined processes. Digital solutions can optimize production and inventory management to free up working capital amidst tight margins. Prioritize automation investments. 

Cut Discretionary Spending 

Eliminate unnecessary operating expenses that divert cash flow needed for sustaining essential functions. Halt non-critical projects and capital expenditures. Suspend bonuses and pay raises. Freeze hiring. Review energy, travel, entertainment and office supply costs.

Offer Value-Added Services

Generating additional revenue streams beyond existing products can help offset rising FX costs. Offer customers special services like expedited delivery, extended warranties, tech support and loyalty programs at a premium cost.

Long-Term Vision

Beyond immediate strategies, businesses must also consider long-term measures:

  1. Market Expansion: Exploring new markets can reduce the impact of currency fluctuations on any single market. This expansion can include both geographical diversification and the introduction of new products or services.
  2. Innovation: Investing in research and development can lead to the creation of unique products that can command higher prices and are less susceptible to market changes.
  3. Building Brand Loyalty: Establishing a strong brand can make customers more willing to accept price adjustments and remain loyal during tough economic times.
  4. Sustainable Practices: Adopting sustainable business practices can lead to cost savings and open up new market opportunities, particularly as global consumers become more environmentally conscious.

Bottomline

While challenging, a weakening naira does not have to cripple Nigerian enterprises. Proactive steps to adjust finances, supply chains and operations can position local businesses to adapt and ride out currency volatility over time.

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