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By now you have been through the shock of the world literally seeming like it changed overnight. You have adapted to this “new norm.”
Whether you like it or not, this change could be with us for 12 to 18 months. Some areas of business may never fully change back.
Successful organizations have increased communications, pivoted with new innovations, cut costs, become more efficient, and surely have changed in a world where most people simply don’t like change. Even if your business has skyrocketed during these unpredictable times, you may be wondering when your industry will soften.
We all need to be on a heightened sense of awareness of what is happening in the industries that we are involved in. What is more important is to focus on sustaining any new growth that came from this crisis.
A rallying cry that resonates with me is one that I have used before. It is termed “stabilization to propel future growth.” What exactly does this mean? It means that financial health does not come overnight and that every investment should have some type of a return. Financial gains clearly are lagging indicators of what you are doing in other areas of your business. In a mode of financial stabilization, you should be relentlessly pursuing ways to gain new customer insights, further developing your supply chain, working to innovate, and maintaining a great culture. In other words, your financials will only grow if you take the time to grow other areas of your business.
How do you know what to change? Laura Huang, associate professor at the Harvard School of Business and author of “Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage,” differentiates between companies that are successful and ones that may be left behind. Dr. Huang goes on to say the ones that succeed “understand that even though they are looking to do new and innovative things, they need to grow where they are planted.”
As a business, you have a purpose, advantages, an established customer base, and the certain “something” that makes your organization tick. The old adage “drastic times call for drastic measures” is one I want to warn you about. In crisis mode, one may get paralyzed and do nothing, or try to do too much. My recommendation is to do neither.
Make tweaks that remain consistent with the business’ purpose. Perhaps you can make sudden tweaks to what you’re doing and how you’re innovating with customers. Look at improving a delivery system, ordering process, your packaging, or how you promote your product. You may want to review who your ideal customer is and try to find ways to get more customers like them. You could think about partnering with likeminded people and organizations. This helps with flexibility, especially as you are pursuing new business opportunities and/or new ways of doing business. In contrast, wholesale changes probably aren’t in your best interest. These may be too big a change, especially when looking to stabilize your business.
Never implement these changes in a silo. Develop new things and get input from your customers. Put a fair amount of time into these experiments. If they do not work, try something else.
The growth that you are experiencing now may not be financial. Remember, financial growth is a lagging indicator of what you’re doing to improve the other areas of your business. Those areas are just as important as the numbers you see when your books close every month. Look at improving in areas of customer interaction and pursuits, innovative ideas, and efficiency in the workplace. If you see growth in these areas, you will surely get to see growth in your financial viability. It will simply take some time. Measuring only financial results may not be uplifting enough to feel the true progress that your business is making.
Always stay nimble. Oftentimes when people reflect on a challenging time, they realize that it was a time when they did something significant that resulted in something great.
I challenge you to think of the areas you changed during this crisis. What will you do to sustain (and improve) the results of those pivots?