Salvador Ordorica is the CEO of The Spanish Group LLC, a first-class international translation service, that translates over 90 languages.
The world is still reeling from a pandemic that has shocked and upturned the global economy. While some businesses have done well in this current climate, entire industries, such as live events, have been hit hard. Amid this chaos, small-business owners struggle to navigate and overcome the pandemic’s ever-changing hurdles and challenges, as well as the resulting restrictions.
Many owners were wholly unprepared for the requirements of operating during Covid-19. Being forced to dramatically change the way they do business broke the backs of countless enterprises. While some could afford to shift to delivery or outdoor services, many more couldn’t, or it was simply a logistical impossibility.
If the pandemic has taught small-business owners anything, it is that we never know what challenges or crises might await our businesses when we awake the next day.
While you can never know what challenges await you, there are steps you can take to prepare and future-proof your operation.
Three Ways To Prepare Your Business
Whether you are facing another pandemic or disruptive tech tools such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, there are ways that you can ensure your business is better prepared to adapt and overcome.
1. Diversify and innovate without becoming bloated.
Adding new revenue streams and new customer bases to interact with will always be a boon for a business. However, needing to expand your staff or offices to accommodate this growth can make your entire business more calcified, slow and challenging to manage. In turn, these difficulties can translate into an inability to adapt and change quickly enough to compete properly.
Always continue to research, grow and offer new products or services, and ensure you emphasize efficiency with both their innovation and implementation.
Furthermore, try to iterate, not reinvent.
This first expansion in my business wasn’t to offer a whole new set of services; instead, we offered the same services to a new set of people. This allowed us to continue with the same processes in the back end while serving a whole new customer base on the front end. Offering your products or services in a new language or to an entirely new country can quickly introduce your company to a vast market without the need to dramatically change the way you do business.
You can also consider ways to repackage and reuse your existing offerings or products to meet different target demographics’ needs. The more imagination you can put into creating and slimming down your services, the better placed you will be for future implementation. Strive for simplicity with your services, and focus on what you do best.
2. Think and act quicker.
Just as you don’t want to become bloated, you also don’t want to remain “standard.” Operating and reacting just as fast as your competition is hardly better than being slower than them. (At least when you’re behind, you can see what does and doesn’t work). And at that point, why innovate at all?
Based on my experience as a CEO, a business today has the potential to go from idea to implementation in about three months, sometimes quicker. It’s important to be quick. As the pandemic has shown us, you might need to dramatically shift the way you interact with customers at a moment’s notice, and not being able to do so (or being slow to do so) is the path to ruin so many companies walked down in 2020.
Creating minimum viable products is what I consider the safest way to test the waters with a new idea, quickly and before the competition, while minimizing overall risk.
3. Refocus on the customer.
Encouraging interactivity and community and focusing on a customer-experience approach will help your business understand exactly what your target audience desires. This will also help you retain their business through tumultuous times. I’ve found loyal customers are less susceptible to jumping ship when delivery times or prices are forced to fluctuate, for example. Customer research will reveal your shortcomings, as well as provide the basis for the ever-important innovations.
Many companies, surprisingly, have no formal method for digesting and acting on customer feedback. Even a low-cost survey or some media-monitoring software can offer insights if you have yet to speak to your customer base properly. Many are highly affordable.
In our crowdsourcing-friendly world, don’t hesitate to put out calls to your customers and suppliers for ideas and concepts.
Don’t wait for the future to come to you.
Picture challenges such as Covid-19 as if someone were trying to shove your business into the dirt: If you don’t react and keep standing there as you were before, the shove will be very effective, and you will likely tumble over. If you see the shove coming and you brace for it in time, you have a much better chance of withstanding it. Now, what if you spent an entire year preparing for a potential shove? You will barely feel it, and you might even use it to your advantage.
Always look for ways to cut costs and become more efficient, and plan to change and adapt when the time comes. In the end, you will be ready to handle whatever the future throws at you.