Companies that are surviving, even thriving, have continued to push forward and find new avenues of profitability.
From product manufacturing to printing, healthcare to high-tech, businesses of all sizes and shapes face a perfect storm consisting of the pandemic, politics and a panicked economy. Depressing news is everywhere you turn, and dire predictions abound.
Amid all this, many businesses are folding. Others are paralyzed by “wibble-wobble,” pivoting in place while afraid to move forward or backward. Companies that are surviving, even thriving, have continued to push forward and find new avenues of profitability. Further, they are taking steps to ensure that their productivity, morale and planning fit flexible models that take into account best-to-worst scenarios.
Finally, successful companies are taking extra special care of their customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. Building loyalty now will help ensure longevity and stability on all fronts. These businesses also have the foresight to see that what’s being done now for all stakeholders is the foundation for doing business in the future. They will continue seeking win-win solutions long after the perfect storm has calmed to an occasional rain shower.
While each company’s challenges and solutions are unique to some degree, there are common themes and threads that help sustain everyone. Five ways companies can best navigate the turbulence and prepare for 2021 during the fourth quarter are:
- Push forward. Don’t drive your bus around in circles. Both resolve and perseverance need to be hitting on all cylinders. In part, that means taking decisive action now to avoid being stuck later. As Theodore Roosevelt pointed out, in any time of decision (including crises), the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best is the wrong thing, the worst thing is nothing. Many species of sharks must move forward continuously, or they die. The same is true about your business. Stagnating and “waiting it out” likely will result in a loss of momentum that can’t be recaptured later.
- Get outside yourself. Trusted advisors are there for a reason. They help businesses see the forest for the trees, and can provide steady, insightful influence at the most critical times. Notice we’re talking about “trusted advisors,” not grasping at straws for help anywhere you can get it. This requires careful vetting of folks who will help you drive your bus. Make sure that those you bring into your trusted advisor arena not only can pass thorough background and reference checks, but that they’re the right fit for you—in terms of experience, expertise and temperament. Find people you like, trust and respect—you will be well-rewarded. This is the perfect and appropriate time to ask for help. The right trusted advisors can provide it.
- Expect the best, prepare for the worst. When preparing for a hurricane, shuttering windows is advisable. But, you don’t need to tear down the property. Look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios so that you’re not caught unawares either way. Be as prepared as possible to protect yourself as needed, while being ready to resume robust activities when the sun comes back out. By aiming to remain optimistic and forward-thinking while maintaining a protective and realistic stance, you’ll be as well prepared as possible—no matter what comes.
- Find new niches. Adversity can create opportunity. For example, businesses accustomed to working with big, flashy firms and budgets to match will typically start seeking less costly, but still competent, services and providers. This may be the time to re-gear your business model to accommodate current needs and/or find those companies downsizing their expenditures. Being agile has been a lifesaver for many businesses during the pandemic. For example, a number of companies manufacturing health and beauty products have pivoted to provide hand sanitizer and other in-demand products resulting from COVID-19. While overall company revenues may have declined, this type of nimble retooling has enabled companies that otherwise might have succumbed to survive. In the process, many have learned lessons about providing better customer service and developing new offerings. These lessons will help ensure customer loyalty and longevity, and in turn, improved profits over the long haul.
- Make sure your own house is tidy. You’re likely already overwhelmed because of COVID-19, on top of “pre-existing” challenges and obstacles. This is a time to lessen stress and maximize productivity. “Operations housecleaning” can provide a sense of accomplishment and ability to move forward more efficiently. For most of us, the simple act of cleaning up our desks drives a sense of accomplishment and ramps up efficiency. Stuff that might have been buried is now easily accessed. This all leads to an improved sense of wellbeing, lowered stress levels, higher morale and better productivity. Now, take the desk cleaning example and apply it to your entire business operation. The opportunities and ROI can be amazing.
This perfect storm will eventually subside. Whether or not your business is still standing or has been swept away will depend in large part on the steps you take now to move forward decisively.