Times are changing. So must your business. But where are the lines in the sand and how does your business survive amid the chaos? Here are three key steps to ensuring successful business continuity during times of change.
1. Live Your Values
Fingers crossed that your organization has taken a critical and in-depth look at itself when it spent time developing its core values. If not, then you’re missing a fundamental part of what makes your organization healthy.
Assuming you have spent that time to develop clear core values, now is the moment where they get tested. When making key decisions for how your business will change and evolve during a challenging time, lean on your core values. Trust your core values to do the things that are right for your business. Most importantly, do not compromise your values for a short term gain.
Standing by your values provides you a decision making tool and a road map to clear your path forward. It doesn’t mean your business will not be impacted by change, but it means you have the best chance of surviving and even thriving.
Importantly, people and other businesses look for leaders during times of change. This may be an opportunity – by living your core values – to show strong leadership. In turn, this can improve your position in the market, add to brand value and accelerate your business in ways you may not have expected.
Yes, living by your organization’s core values can be challenging. However, it’s also a measure of the resilience of your business and its integrity. Standing by your values is critical to your success and continuity.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate
The last thing most organizations want to do when they’re hurting is to communicate. However, staying silent is one of the worst things you can do.
Reach out to your customers. Reach out to your suppliers. Take the time to listen to their needs and have real conversations with them.
Note that when I said communicate I didn’t just mean talk or email market. Listen to your customers. Listen to your suppliers. You may hear about opportunities that you might not have previously known or considered.
Yes, communicate also means talking about what’s happening with your business. Be honest. You may be surprised what a little bit of vulnerability can do when discussing your challenges with your suppliers. We’re all in this together, so don’t isolate your business from your stakeholders. Embrace them (figuratively) and find ways to create solutions to the challenges you’re facing. You can’t work together and problem solve if you’re not communicating. It’s an opportunity to build stronger, more trusting relationships.
Easier said than done but history shows us that in times of conflict and change are when the most innovations happen. Unfortunately these are largely due to massive conflicts like war, however, the same can and should be said about times of rapid change and disruption.
So, innovate. Take that part of your business you’ve done in person and move it online. Change your revenue to a subscription model. Find ways to add extra value for your customers (hint – see #2 for finding those ways).
The point here is if you assume business as usual, then business will never be as usual again. It’s up to you to determine your path forward and innovation should lead the way. Even when the chaos clears, the businesses that innovated during times of change will be left more robust, resilient and likely more profitable as well.
4. Find financing
Your cash flow has been seriously impacted. Now what? Get financing, now.
If you want your business to succeed you need to find money to help you through. In Canada the BDC is offering low interest loans to help businesses cope. In the US, I’m sure there are similar programs. You’re not in this alone so take advantage of these opportunities to provide your business with some level of short term financial stability.
Beyond emergency financing, look to new ways of adding to your cash flow. Even if you can’t have your doors open, for example, as a retail business, doesn’t mean you can’t take your business online. If steps 1-3 are followed, then it should become clear that there are opportunities for you to shift your business model to help your cash flow.
I can’t stress enough, not as a sales pitch, but as being critical to your business, hire a competent Executive Coach who has built some sort of business in a recession. This is the best money you’ll ever spend because the changes to your mentality, the way you seek opportunity and the resilience a coach will help provide not only will help you conquer this uncertainty, but it can help accelerate your business dramatically when things start to seem like they’re going back to normal. You’ll be so far ahead of the herd it will be like you can predict the future. Not because you can, but because you have the skills to think differently. I highly encourage you to reach out today. Don’t wait.
Prior to being an Executive Coach, C.J. Wilkins was an award-winning sustainably business entrepreneur having built a thriving sustainable sign company out of a dirty industry during a recession. He has extensive experience in crisis communications and can help you see the calm and most importantly the opportunity in the storm.