Entrepreneurs have always (and will always) known better, that learning from crisis, mistakes and experiences is the best way to invent the future. Every entrepreneur knows that resilience is essential to turn adversity into success, manage crises and grow businesses.
2020 and 2021 proved to everyone that having the traits, skills and resources to successfully adapt to changes in the business landscape is not just helpful – it is essential. This is what I call “future-readiness” – and it is now! It is essential. It is a critical element of today’s economic survival.
With the disruption caused by COVID-19 universal pandemic, most MSMEs that have survived have been a result of lessons learnt swiftly and these shall always be etched to their strategy for growth. As a consultant and entrepreneur that exists to help business and investments succeed, I recently sat down and captured these 8 ways that shall make enterprises thrive at every stage of their journey and be ready to wither future challenges and form deeper connections thus getting future-readiness.
With no explanation we all know the waves that have been sweeping off the globe. The pandemic created a very ugly disruption for the global and local everything. Everyone, everything was directly or indirectly disrupted by the pandemic. Changes were to inevitably come. Nothing remained the same.
Amidst all, one thing was for sure – We were to make a comeback, but, the comeback was not another old folk play of rinsing the same. It was a reimagined comeback.
Firms whether big or small that thrived or are thriving are those that took initiative to revise the way to do business. This revision was relative to each industry and business. But few things remained evident to make meaning for now and the future. I explored a few nuggets briefly below!
The rise of Hybrid Shopping
Traditional buying will remain but Technology, e-commerce and digitization shall keep essential too
Digitization, Digitalization! You must have heard that for long. Simply put, it means using technology to optimize the ways of doing business and drive growth, convenience and reduced costs.
The only reason for digitization to trend is that it opens the door of opportunities, possibilities and revenue streams, enabling new ways and approaches of service delivery, communication, creation of new products and services, etc. It increases the speed of response to changes in demand in the market. It generates a competitive advantage for the company by being able to enhance the quality of the products and services and most importantly gives inclusive access to information, services and lifestyles.
The physical interaction, physical meetings and instore shopping will remain but it will be guided by e-commerce, technology and digital communications – digitization. Inevitably digitalization is the way we shop and do business of late. The success of most businesses post Covid19 shall be determined by how flexible they adapt to digital and technological trends.
Movements and crowding is likely to remain regulated for an additional time for some good time and even if your business had the essential provision to pull on site crowds as clients, the regulatory restrictions and myths shall cost you a little high, more so you will need marketing and communication with your crowds – which is digital.
So, what happens? Even if you are running a retail store, the days of delivering paper quotations and then deliver items physically seem to be going, more than ever small and big business shall get to digital means for most of the services.
The businesses whose policy is come to shop, store or office are likely to lose out big. More than ever, phone call orders, digital transactions, communication and allied flexibility is going to be a mandatory aspect for any succeeding business. Many trends ranging from CRM Systems, Cashless Payment, digital invoicing/receipting, Cyber/digital security, data collection and communication systems, etc are going to be the new normal for a business to succeed regardless of size.
So pause and ask; what digital trends can I apply to my business, what e-commerce opportunities can I grab and what technological tools can I use to keep relevant?
Data collection and Management
I work with dozens of small and medium enterprises as a consultant. Most SMALL businesses have no single effective data collection and management systems. This is going to change. Having data about your business transactions and customers is going to be a game changer in many ways, from marketing, to retention, to seeking financing. The client who got all data well managed has many chances to turn things around than the traditional wait business person.
Flexibility in Employment
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, says an old adage. Employment is going to change too. From limited money to pay salaries and need for more intangible resources, to limited access of work places and less physical interactions, the successful entrepreneur must revise and understand a new way to have partners and teams that deliver. Could be there some workforce that you can outsource to remote freelancers who don’t require big payments and regulatory benefits and contractual obligations? Those that shall execute per tasks other than idly being at work place consuming services and expanding bills?
Could many employees get an option to work from home part timely or get paid per task and allow you to cut some expenses?
Security and hygiene
More than ever, for the entrepreneur to succeed post Covid-19 must be a security conscious one. As crisis increase, crimes too are going to increase and corrupt behaviors and to succeed in this there shall be need to secure tangible and intangible properties, data, systems, ideas, etc. More than ever the careless entrepreneur shall lose out. The way you keep records, confidential documents, discussions, property, equipment, etc. depending on your industry. Is your office and data protected from data loss and hackers since 50 % employees work from home under unmonitored network sources and IP addresses? Digital and cyber security are going to be key drivers of what next.
Getting to hygiene, more than ever disorganized and unhygienic packaging, processing, work force, work places and etc, shall be seen as losers in the coming season. The whole crisis resonates on hygiene practices and people especially those dealing in food and human consumption services more than ever are to adapt to high standard hygiene services else they lose.
What hygiene solutions are required at your work place and delivery models of products or services and what are you doing about it?
Professional Support Services
Whereas everyone is smart in business (which we tend to be as entrepreneurs) but you cannot tackle all business matters personally and hiring a full time professional for such tasks that come once in a while is not a good move, so engaging an outside expert can be an extra measure to ensure business receive proper attention for growth.
It also can be useful to have a third-party’s perspective on matters that require objectivity, or an “extra set of eyes” to verify that no mistakes made in a critical process and the business growth is on an ascending curve other than gambling. Before it was ok to try and fail and try again until you figure things out but now it will be expensive to be a try-and-see person in such a delicate situation of low resources and jaw biting competition.
From business development strategies, to compliance, contracts and tender processes, legal suits, name it all, you need an external support consultant or professional. Better to spend 10m shillings on consultancy services and 10m shillings on business set up and development than putting all 20m to risk and burn while drifting.
Business support services like consultancy, accountancy, legal, technological etc are going to be key drivers of any business regardless of size and industry. Unarguably, we all know that every new development brings with it changing risks and it becomes good to prevent the risk than curing it. External support service makes this possible.
Communication and negotiation
More than ever for businesses to thrive they must learn the art of communication and negotiation, short of that, few will survive. In this hybrid setting of things that is trending, how we interact both directly and indirectly matters, from text communications, audio visual, direct interaction, etc. Business communication can be direct verbal, text or psychological like the way we position, structure offices and stores, websites, etc.
Negotiation is a discussion or systems built to take into account everybody’s needs and interests so that no one is at loss. Good negotiations are very important as they contribute much to business success and build better relations. From your marketing materials to the website and phone calls you make to the setup of an office and systems, this must be kept in mind and positioned well.
Communication and negotiation is not only about talk but also in overall branding processes. Ever walked to an office and felt intimidated to ask a question or discount just because of their system structure or access set up?
Ever went to the bank that its set up was not good to strike good conversation away from the formal inquiries, the list is endless. This is too integral in overall business processes.
Systems & Standards Certifications
From documentation, policies and procedures, quality control, financial records, customer interactions, transactions, delivery models, plans, business contacts, employee details, regulatory requirements and so on, business require certain standards and systems fully certified to beat competition and have smooth productive operations.
Without effective systems you cannot manage to thrive effectively. Systems and standards are an essential part of the business and post Coid-19 it will not only be essential but integral to manage and build a successful business.
System certifications and standards are used by both small and big businesses to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements under acceptable disciplines. As people are getting cautious and skeptical of what they buy, the entrepreneur with no standards and certifications will not make massive sales and deals. Adoption of both micro and mega local & internationally recognized management systems and standards is a great deal in the coming days!
Ditch the deal mindset & focus on Cash flow
Like a bouncing castle, when things get to the low and rigid you will not jump once and get to the sky, there are many warm-up jumps till the mega jump and this calls for patience. To be a buffalo hunter is to know that you will not shoot at first glance often, you must first study the surroundings and the prey’s defense system and all your walk out moves.
Businesses face chunks of challenges and opportunities and these too demand different solutions. Good cash flow control is important for any business that wants to generate profit. Many businesses before have been focusing on profit even when cash flow is negative, this is going to change, a negative cash flow business will likely not survive. Your Inflow creditors are going to reduce on morale and payers are going to learn the tactic to delay payments to build their cash flow too. You can guess how tough it will be.
Making the best use of your finances should be a key driver. Every element of working capital should be carefully controlled to maximize your cash flow. Knowing how to extend or fasten payment of debts, taking loans and making payments will all be great game changers.
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