Running a Business In a Disrupted World
Here at The Everyday Agency, we are eternal optimists. That doesn’t mean we collectively wear rose tinted glasses, upholding a misaligned perception that everything is forever great. Instead we are proudly confident in our ability to deal with change, which provides us with an unwavering trust that everything will eventually be ok. Recognised as natural problem solvers, our team are visionaries at heart. We love to share our knowledge and extend a positive branch whenever possible.
Currently the entire planet is undergoing a major upheaval. This year alone we have encountered huge shifts including Brexit, Coronavirus, disastrous bushfires, climate change pressures, political unrest, mental health issues increasing and more, all aptly highlighted by the mainstream media. It can be daunting with an influx of information on how to progress a sustainable business strategy. As a business, it could be overtly frightening to know how to survive financially during pivotal times of uncertainty like the present. At TEA, we know that being resilient throughout the winds of change also leads to longevity and initiates forging forward with commercial conviction in a brave new world.
Adapting To Change
Disruption equals change. Your ability to adapt to this change will precede how you survive as a business, community, family or individual. Having the correct foundations in place will make these adaptations even easier – namely structures, processes and procedures. By implementing these; how you react will become clearer and less chaotic and will allow you to make informed decisions as you progress. These processes are not just set once, as they will need to be revised and updated consistently. Revisit them on a quarterly basis, so you can check in to ensure they always provide consistent results transcending changing circumstances.
The second partition of adapting to change is embedded in problem solving. This involves having and being able to extract the right data out of your processes and systems. This will allow you to grow and jump ahead of trends which directly affect you. You can then move deeper into how to solve problems fluidly based upon this information and which resources are available to you at any given point.
- Start mapping your processes for sales and marketing, operations, finance, logistics, admin, recruitment – whatever your business does it should be mapped out accordingly
- Consider what systems can help manage this for you, project management tools like Monday, Asana and systems which can assist you to automate some of these task
- Consider what procedures you should have in place if activities and targets deviate from the plan
Don’t Become Complacent
Complacency is one of the biggest killers for business. For example, if you have achieved three solid years of growth in a row, all it may take is for a ripple to appear, which could potentially wipe out your hard work. Continue to evolve and keep changing the way you do things by consistently testing what works and highlighting what doesn’t. This will provide a solid overview to improve the way you do things and to formulate a foundation to rely upon.
One continual thing we do at TEA is to ‘catastrophise’. Although this directly contradicts our personal optimism, it helps to envisage any possible variations to a plan, allowing for proactive changes before problems arise. This is basically a term we apply to understanding the worst possible case scenario. We don’t spend hours on the detail, it’s a quick one hour meeting per month, projecting if something did actually go wrong, what would we do and how could it be corrected? It’s a great way to problem solve and recheck your systems and which processes are right for you. A ‘listen and learn’ ethos between your core team allows everyone to be on the same page and instead of hiding from problems, face them head on. This is almost like delivering an on-the-fly SWOT Analysis delivered via a communal brainstorm session.
Businesses that succeed are universally adept at problem solving, well practiced and aware of impacts before they appear. Acting as a solid reminder ‘It’s not what you are doing, but what you could be doing’. Utilise this approach to build improvements across the board for your business.
- Create a SWOT Analysis on the current situation
- Catastrophise right now! What could go wrong? What is going wrong? How can you fix it?
- Use mind mapping to identify the solutions and flesh them out in more detail.
Disruption Creates Innovation
During times of excessive change, there will become huge potential for innovation to break through. Where some people only see adversity and challenges, others see opportunities and solutions. Instead of focusing upon the widespread effects of what is going wrong, we suggest immediately addressing what improvements could possibly make it right again. Resolve situations early on, to limit a long term negative result. Remember that although certain situations are out of your immediate control, they can never truly make you fully powerless.
Focus on adapting what you could do today, to make a difference to tomorrow’s world and those within it. It has been historically proven that many of the greatest creations have risen during the most challenging and difficult times that people have faced. Hold hope in the knowledge that this will be the same for you personally and in business. Be prepared and move forward when possible.
Adapting To The Future Of Work
We can already see that the traditional ways of working have already changed. Many companies who were early innovators of digital trends, actively engaged remote working over twenty years ago, when the internet was still within its infancy. Now, as you know, it has become a global template for entire teams to work remotely, in temporary office spaces, hot desks or from home. This has helped small companies grow by utilising their incomes to advertise and set up systems in preference to the previous bricks and mortar approach. Virtual teams are here to stay and engage a stronger talent pool than available from single territories.
AI is also settling in, becoming widely accepted and helping support business infrastructures. We should be fully prepared to see how this impacts business, and ways it can be incorporated to assist existing protocols. These changes will mean there will be less differentiation between independent brands and corporate companies. Smaller teams will become more efficient, fully automated and able to scale to the same productivity levels and outputs of their larger counterparts.
Small teams and businesses will be able to keep their finger on the pulse, instantly affecting decision making and getting things delivered promptly as a result. Often it can be said, the bigger the business the bigger the fall. They cannot always react fast enough in the decision making process or adapt en masse to changes outside of their immediate control. This brings rise to flatter company structures eliminating hierarchy, whilst promoting better decision making, active collaboration and unified teamwork. Now is the time to implement this and celebrate the distinct results.
- Identify how to create a remote team
- Consider what tasks you can digitise and action remotely using tools such as Zoom, Zapier, CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems) and implement them today
Local vs Global
This has already become a core driver for forward thinking brands. Start to look toward your locally sourced and produced products and services across the board. Our communities will start to build themselves again by supporting those directly close to us. Whether it’s local farmers, businesses, shops and more – please choose smaller independents and those who really need it now. In current climates everybody will be affected, but not all will have the financial capability to move forward without your support.
Encourage local creativity, passion projects and businesses who will be adversely affected during these times. This may help unify voices, and set up networks and partnerships for a long term vision. Unlike larger corporations who have a number of investors backing them, these individuals and small businesses will often be self-funded or with limited resources. Let’s aim to keep these independents and their staff alive during these difficult times by carefully considering where you decide to purchase your services and any products from. Let’s rebuild and restore a platform which is more equally balanced than any of the front led commercial options from the past.
People Before Profit
During turbulent times, you need to do what is right for people and the greater community before considering profit, this should become your 100% priority. We have recently seen some very extreme financial decisions being made as a result of COVID-19. Closure of public events, conferences, clubs, schools, transport and entire countries have all endured an enforced lock down to protect the local people. As displayed, personal health (mentally and physically) should prominently outweigh any single business need. Think, without your team or your consumers, essentially there isn’t any business. This can be a tough position to surrender to, but it will provide a clear pathway for everyone in the long term. Deal with everyone around you with abundant consideration and empathy, adding grace to every circumstance, requesting the same standards you deserve returned to yourself.
Evaluation & Evolution
Perhaps one major thing we can all look forward to during the existing wavering marketplace, is the opportunity to undertake a deeper re-evaluation of what is implicitly important to us on every level. Considering our actions and decisions based upon the part we play as a global community member. We will all be forced to assess what makes our lives complete as individuals and how this translates to a wider audience.
Taking on a ‘cause and effect’ approach, naturally our lives will start to simplify in some capacity. Many will become content with less, as a result of recent changes. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will ‘have less’, it means we will find greater personal pleasure and celebration in meaningful experiences. The wider world has been considerably lost in blanket consumerism for a long time. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to return back to basics and fully assess what it is we all actually need to be happy.
A huge evolution will take place on a deeper level. Reverting back to history, following the example of war, once situations reached a rock bottom or ground zero state, the level of growth and resilience afterwards was exponential and led the way for the digital revolution. We should all take this in our stride, aptly preparing to rise and evolve universally stronger again. Spend time applying the education and experience to inform and uplift our future decisions.
Adopt An Infinite Mindset
One way to become inspired during this pivotal period is to take a look at Simon Sinek’s – The Infinite Game. Throughout this insightful book Simon directly points out that running a business is “a journey without a final destination”. In the past we have been so consumed about ‘Winning or Losing’. However the goal is not to win but to play and stay in the game, by which he means building an organisation that can survive its leaders. This requires making decisions that sometimes impede conventional entrepreneurial goals, such as growing at any cost.
There are two types of games, according to NYU professor and religious scholar James Carse:
Finite Games have known players, fixed rules, a clear end. The purpose is to win. Like a football game. Here we are playing to beat everyone else and the joy comes from comparison.
Infinite Games have known and unknown players who shift around. Rules change, and there’s no finish line. Also like a football game. Here we are playing to be better than we were yesterday and the joy comes from advancement.
Simon says (no pun intended)
“It’s about what kind of company we want to build. We do not get to choose the rules of the game of business. The only choice we get is how we want to play. The choice to play with a finite mindset comes with a cost. The cost of trust. The cost of cooperation. The cost of innovation. The cost of longevity. The choice to play with an infinite mindset may mean the growth numbers are a little slower than your friend’s down the street. But the goal is not to beat your competition. The goal is to outlast them.”
- Read the difference between ‘Finite and Infinite Games’ and consider how you can adopt an infinite mindset today?
- Consider your company as it currently stands, how can you add achievable targets for longevity in preference to end goals?
An Intro To The Future
Although things are certainly turbulent at the minute, it’s worth noting that a period of innovation will be created.
Take the time to review, re-invent and evaluate exactly what is absolutely important. What do you want to see as a prominent change within yourself and the way you do things? This is a time for internalising, looking within, and then finding specific ways you can help to make the situation better for everyone, including yourself. This doesn’t start tomorrow, it starts today and deserves your complete attention. Pick up a pen and storyboard your vision with a perpetual future plan for the next chapter that awaits you.
We know many people who run their own businesses are feeling the effects of the recent events. Please reach out to The Everyday Agency for complimentary advice to help you navigate through this. Together we are stronger and with teamwork we can get through this. Let’s have a virtual cuppa. Email firstname.lastname@example.org