Business is a journey – have the courage to stay on track

By David Penney

There is a well-known saying that if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.

It is a maxim that appears to make perfect sense, with its suggestion to the reader that if a different outcome is desired then only through change can it be achieved.

However, from a business perspective there is a fundamental issue with the original premise of this oft mentioned phrase – it just isn’t true.

The reality is that by always doing what you have always done, it is actually highly unlikely that you will always get what you’ve always got.

Even for the most conservative of businesses, understanding and responding to everything from changing customer expectations to market trends has always been an essential ingredient for success – and this is something that is more important today than it ever was. 

At the beginning of 2020 companies embraced aggressive changes in order to respond to the realities of the pandemic and Penney Financial Partners was no different to many others.

We adopted different working practices, invested in the right technology and reassessed our approach to ensure that we were providing a service that not just responded to the physical challenges of the pandemic but recognised the changing needs of our current and future clients.

Across all sectors, businesses were making business critical decisions which in many cases fundamentally changed their companies forever, hopefully for the better although the process was never going to be an easy one. 

Today we can see the light shining ever brighter at the end of tunnel as the pandemic slowly but surely wanes although the challenges that this has created combined with other factors such has Brexit has taken a hammer generally to business confidence, as was highlighted in the most recent Institute of Directors’ sentiment survey.  

For any business that has enjoyed success over the years, there is always an undoubted temptation at times like these to believe that maintaining the processes and behaviours that historically served so well would be sufficient to maintain the required business performance.

And in a difficult market – and regardless of the sector, the trading environment over the past couple of years has been anything but straightforward – that back-to-basics approach has an undoubted appeal. 

But the mark of every successful business is their ability to innovate, adapt, evolve and have the courage to continue to challenge themselves - as difficult sometimes as that may be. 

We are currently living through what is being called the hinge of history, potentially the most influential moment in human history where the decisions we face around issues like AI, the internet and climate change will likely affect humanity far into the future - and the impact on every business will be huge.

How people live, how they interact and how they think is being transformed before our very eyes and so aspiring to nothing more than maintaining the status quo is no longer a realistic option, if it was ever thus. 

Disruption and disrupters are all around us and that is even before the full impact of the global covid crisis has truly played out in terms of how it will impact those complex yet fragile ecosystems that connect us all.  

Committing to continuous, if incremental, improvement will be absolutely key in maintaining relevance in an unpredictable future.

This means continuing to enhance capabilities through recruitment and training, investing in the talent that will carry your business through to the next generation and embracing the very best technological tools to enable the best possible customer experience. 

It also means developing a culture that is able to respond to a future as yet unknown, a culture where difficult questions are encouraged, initiative is the norm and colleagues have the courage to thrive when others are in retreat. 

Of course maintaining those core principles and values that form the DNA of every successful business should never change and committing to excellence as standard is an absolute pre-requisite.

But running a successful business is a journey where one should never believe they have reached the final destination, even if aspirations are limited to just getting what one has always got. 

As the celebrated author CS Lewis wisely said: “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird, but it would a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.” 

The Partner Practice is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James's Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group's wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the group's website The 'St. James's Place Partnership' and the title 'Partner' are marketing terms used to describe St. James's Place representatives.

Penney Financial Partners is a trading name of Penney Financial Partners Ltd. Penney Financial Partners Limited is registered in England and Wales, Number 09964340. Registered Office: Kensington House, Knights Way, Battlefield, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 3AB, UK