Why your business should be able to adapt at any time
Our world seems to be changing from day to day and on some days it seems like by minute. In the chaos of all that is happening, it’s important to focus on a key lesson that has always been applied to business, but more than ever. The adaptability of your business is a key tool for survival and growth.
It is a requirement to be adaptable. Not all companies have this internal adaptability and will therefore face dire situations. Those who are already adapting regularly are ready to face any storm that comes their way. The beauty of adaptation is that everyone naturally has a capacity for it. The question is, how do you fit into a roller coaster that now travels twice as fast? Or maybe you realize that your business is currently not designed to be adaptable. What can your business do to change this? At SMB Compass, we have had to ask ourselves these same questions and sometimes these questions have forced us to seek real transparency internally.
When we began to think about opportunities to fine tune our business to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, we sought to understand what changes we could make that would have the most impact. Today we see manufacturers who would focus on other products creating hand sanitizer both as a way to help but as a way to produce when their typical customers aren’t ordering.
We see personally invoice financing and invoice factoring must adapt as borrowers are stranded with little or no cash. We have to adapt to new needs of our customers and prospects that did not exist all our time in business. There is no manual or path taken previously that can provide guidance. The groups that will rise to any challenge are those who, in their business model and their nature, leave room for adaptation and have the mentality to pivot. Implementing or at least reflecting on some of the ideas below will allow your business to focus on pivoting and adapting.
What procedures do I have in place for disruptions?
Contingency plans are usually in place to prepare for any kind of disruption. While these types of plans are great to have and large businesses generally tend to implement them, the reality is that it’s impossible to predict all the disruptions and challenges a business will face.
Important procedures to put in place should include the ability to adjust business operations so that they can adapt to what is needed to continue producing. An example of this includes restaurants that have started creating new take-out food procedures at a time when their regular way of providing this is essentially non-existent. Restaurants that can act quickly and pivot to maintain normalcy or at the very least some sense of normalcy will find ways to stay afloat under any circumstances of distress.
As a business owner or key decision maker, it’s important to constantly think about what other pivots or potential changes your business can make. It’s never too late to start thinking about the plans and paths your business can take. Even during a disruption there are always opportunities, it’s up to you and your team to spend the time thinking about where to find those opportunities.
How is your business structured?
All great plans only work with the right structure. You can create the best building plan, but if the structure is made of cheap materials, the standing and strength of the building will be in question. A company with the right structure will be able to implement any plan or directive. The question is how and what is the best structure for your business?
While every business has specifics that we could write books about, let’s focus on the key aspects of your business structure. The bigger your business the more you’ll have to think about it, but in its simplest form, structure is what keeps your business standing. So to stay upright, your structure needs flexibility to include rapid changes and new business directions.
For example, internally at SMB, we crossed our invoice financing and invoice factoring teams on the operations of other departments. We have also made sure to create in as many places as possible very similar and uniform structures on operational procedures and customer management. Providing a similar structure and cross-training reassures us that in scenarios where we need to move our business, there is a flexible structure that allows our employees to continue producing efficiently. Some of these structures could be as simple as setting up a “work from home” structure. Businesses that already had employees from home find that their transition to a full-time home-based position has gone more smoothly. This all comes from their flexible structure which included several modes of operation.
Do your key employees have the power to make decisions?
In a responsive and fast-acting environment, any kind of bottleneck or hesitation will create pitfalls for businesses. We have already mentioned decision-making, but in adaptation, there is an overarching theme of decision-making. The reflection and the adaptation plan require a final decision. The decisions to be made to adapt will rest with all members of an organization.
It is essential that all businesses, regardless of their size, are created with key members who can make reliable decisions. In reactive and fast-paced environments, delay in decision-making, or indecision, only sets a business back. All adaptable businesses have top-down key decision makers who are able, in real time, to take properly defined, “green” actions that will keep a business going through any storm.
The reality for some companies may be that they have prepared for failure by not allowing for adaptability. While it may sound pessimistic, current circumstances demand the truth and realistic expectations. It’s up to companies that have pivoted and adapt naturally to continue to set the standard during the weird and dark times. Prepare your business for success by making it adaptable.
Your business may not be in any kind of disruption right now. You may not feel any for a while if you are lucky. Take this time to learn from other companies that are currently adjusting. Trying to learn from these companies will help your business in the long run. It has always been proven that any disturbance leads to spillover effects and subsequent disturbances which have unforeseen effects. Don’t wait until you have to make changes to be ready to make those changes.
It’s also important to remember when looking at history that humans will always adapt no matter what. Some of the greatest human creations and innovations have come about when the need for adaptation was dire. From this current storm there will be many innovations and new ideas. This is the time when your business can take the next innovative step or find ways to thrive when it seems like everything is against you. As Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Embrace the change and allow these situations to help you improve yourself and your business.