The past several months have given us all a life lesson. Prepare for the unexpected. Every business owner was hit by complete surprise, by the pandemic. The world shut down, nobody knew how severe the impact would be on businesses needing to rapidly change how they operate. Even though it was not your fault, at the end of the day you are responsible for your business surviving a tumultuous time. Whether it’s an economic crash, political turmoil, or a worldwide virus outbreak, you have to be prepared for virtually anything. Future-proofing has rightly become the hottest topic of discussion among business, industry and sector. There are definitely lessons to be learned in this area, and here are the most prevalent ones that will help your business to absorb something like this in the future.
Remote working isn’t going anywhere
No matter what any industry commentator might want to say, remote working isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. We have all learned that some jobs and roles can be done at home. The technology we have at our fingertips has massively improved in just a few short years and months. Some tasks can be done at home, using the same software you would be using in the office. Communication tools are built into various software we use, whether it be inventory management, task or project management software, etc. Here’s how you can implement remote working in your business.
What kind of jobs can be done remotely? In your organization, think about the jobs which are mainly done by employees by themselves. This could be things such as:
- Accounting. If a project or client needs to have their books balanced, various expenses and expenditures added up to form an accounting report, etc; this can be done remotely.
- Business blogging. If you want to release some great content for your readers to enjoy with their lunch, this can surely be done remotely.
- Client calling. If you have employees that are tasked with using their entire day to call and email clients, addressing their concerns and tracking the projects they are most concerned with, this also can be done remotely.
- IT infrastructure. If your business utilizes cloud computing, your IT staff could easily work from home, monitoring your network and sorting out any hiccups. Cloud computing means that the servers and other hardware are not on-site, so doing some background improvements, updating software and addressing small issues can be done remotely.
Originality is paramount
During the past few challenging months, local businesses have thrived. It’s not just because consumers have wanted to support their local small business owners. It’s also because they have a few things going for them that medium and large businesses do not.
- Being unique is quite easy for a small business. They can branch out in ideas, fully use their imagination without hindrances and present a totally new experience to consumers.
- They are not hampered by large clients that will limit their marketing options. Corporations that are partnering with each other, will often have in their contractual agreements on projects that any major marketing decisions will need to be agreed upon.
- Your newsletters have to be interesting and most of all, original. Take a look at these newsletter examples. The business owners write or commission daily SEO blog content that they incorporate into their newsletters. Show personal stories of customers using your products and services, as well as getting them to write content for your newsletters if you can.
- Consider a new approach to social media. Being more active in responding to comments. Like customer posts when they attach your name in their posts using your products. Take the initiative and make funny posts, showing that you don’t have to be serious all the time.
BCP vs DRP
Perhaps the most important thing about the past several months is BCP and DRP. Business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning have become the two most important planning initiatives at the moment. And they will remain high up on the agenda of every boardroom and business owner’s mind, for the next couple of years. So what is the difference?
BCP: Business continuity planning is a series of actions, designed to respond to a negative impact on your business plan and projects.
DRP: Disaster recovery planning is a series of responses to an event that is unable to be influenced by the business, in a bid to get back up and running while limiting further damage.
The pandemic is a mixture of the two. Although a worldwide virus outbreak was not able to be fully foreseen, it is not something that impacts the infrastructure and reputation of your business. Unlike a hurricane or earthquake, a virus will not impact your production facilities, warehouse, office premises, etc. However, the impact of the pandemic worldwide has meant that it has veered into the DRP zone. Measures such as the remote working of your employees, supporting sales with discounts and competitive pricing are all things you can do to prevent further damage to your business.
Listen to your employees
Much like teams, leaders can enter into their own silos as well. However, it’s not surprising that some of the best businesses in the world have a free-flowing relationship between the boss and the employees. When employees feel they can contact their boss when things get tough and managers will have open conversations with them and the boss all in the same room, the trust and culture improve.
Because the boss is continually in contact with employees, he or she has opened themselves up to some brilliant opportunities to improve their leadership and business as a result.
- Employees will be encouraged to be more honest. When projects aren’t going well, or when communication is not clear between management and themselves, they will let you know. This can prevent projects from slipping past deadlines and better processes being designed.
- When employees feel they can tell the boss what they are thinking, they will be more likely to share their ideas on how to improve their roles. This also means bosses can facilitate better teamwork and collaboration.
- Corporations that have a competitive advantage over their rivals, provide their people with the emotional and infrastructural support they need. There may be on-site mental health services or services of this nature that employees can access while at work. They will also have the hardware they need to complete tasks to a higher quality. They will also have space in the office to have small meetings and quiet time alone.
Working with a risk management firm or professional is absolutely paramount to your future planning. You want to understand a few things, regarding risk in your business.
- What is your risk attitude? This means, what is your overall approach to risks you face, in order to achieve your long-term strategy.
- What is your risk attitude? What is your current willingness to take on risks to achieve tactical success, i.e. projects, tasks, expenses, expenditure, etc.
- What is your risk capacity? How much risk can your organization actually take? There is a case of the eyes being too big for the stomach when businesses take on too much risk while not having the financial strength to take a loss if it goes wrong.
- What is your risk exposure? You may feel that you are within your safe zone, but sometimes, risks develop quickly or they are misunderstood. Your true risk exposure could be far higher than your risk capacity.
When you have found out what your risks are, then the risk firm or professional can do benchmark testing. This is when your risks are compared to the industry standard, or perhaps a competitor to test if the risks and your ability to facilitate them, are within reasonably common ranges. It helps you to know if you are biting off more than you can chew or if you could perhaps take on more risk and thus, have a chance at a bigger reward.
CEOs are often thought of as being cutthroat, hard-as-nails professionals who are emotionless machines that get the job done. This is far from the truth. The fact of the matter is, business owners are just as emotionally sensitive as the rest of us. So as a CEO, you should try to work on your mental fortitude for when the next crisis or emergency arises.
You never know when the next big impact on your business will arrive. So try to improve your mental health so you can take on the challenges without stress getting on top of you. This involves getting fitter, being more mindful of your own weaknesses, and trying to learn from others and how they cope with tough moments.
Future-proofing your business will protect your assets, finances, employees and customers from just about anything. All of these things can be done but they will take time to get right. The sooner you begin future-proofing, the sounder you will sleep at night knowing your business is able to absorb economic and worldwide crises.