Your organization won’t scale without resilience, and establishing a resilient, adaptive company won’t happen without your intervention and buy-in. If you’re hoping to expand operations in the coming year, take the following steps to improve your business’s overall resilience.
Growing a business doesn’t happen without a serious amount of disruption. As a leader, you have to nurture your workplace culture while adding new people into the mix. You’re expected to manage cash flow and maintain exceptional customer experience levels. And if that wasn’t enough, you also have to ward off competitors nipping at your heels.
Here’s the truth: Even if you set up efficient workflows, you can’t scale successfully without resilience. In fact, the more resilience you can bake into every aspect of your organization, the easier it will be for everyone to navigate change.
Yet establishing a resilient, adaptive company won’t happen without your intervention and buy-in. If you’re hoping to expand operations in the coming year, take the following steps to improve your business’s overall resilience:
- Build a contingency plan you can rely on.
According to data from FEMA, almost 40% of small businesses fail to reopen after a disaster. They likely never saw the disaster coming and were caught off guard. No one can predict the future, of course, but there are measures you can take to plan for it — whatever it might hold.
Relying on a single business plan to guide your future decisions doesn’t make sense when, as we have all recently seen, the future can take us on paths we never even could have guessed. Instead, create a contingency plan with your leadership team to account for unforeseen circumstances that might require you to divert from the unexpected path.
It’s true that you can’t think of everything that could happen to derail your operations, but after navigating a global pandemic, you likely have a good idea of what your business will need to survive in the face of another disaster. You can also research the impact of COVID on other organizations to see what your contingency plan should include.
The more comprehensive your backup plan, the more valuable it will be in the event you need to “break the glass” and use it. Even if you don’t experience any disasters as you grow, you might find the contingency plan to be a good resource or playbook for creative solutions for smaller disruptions.
- Take a zero-trust approach to cybersecurity.
A huge part of staying resilient as you scale involves ensuring you have strong cybersecurity to protect your business, your customers, and your data no matter what happens.
As Vats Srivatsan, president and chief operating officer at ColorTokens Inc., puts it in an article for CEOWORLD Magazine: “As your business grows, as attacks grow and attack sophistication increases, it is time to protect what matters most, without constraining the business. This will require not only a differentiated access policy by user group, but the ability to limit the attack surface from any compromised credentials to be as small as possible.”
In other words, you need to move to a zero-trust framework in which no one is given a green flag to move ahead without authentication, validation, and authorization. This contrasts with a more classic model of trusting internal users once they’re into a system. Zero trust is the surest way to reduce your risk of a data breach or similar crisis that could hamper (or destroy) your growth efforts.
- Set yourself up for financial flexibility.
According to research from JPMorgan Chase, the median small business holds less than one month of cash buffer days in reserve. This means that, if inflows came to a halt, the average small business could pay out cash outflows for fewer than 30 days.
Many businesses realized just how precarious such a position can be during COVID as they found themselves just weeks or months from financial ruin. As part of your intentions to expand operations, make sure you position your company to have access to working capital.
You can boost your financial situation in numerous ways. For instance, understanding all your potential funding options could be one. This may mean exploring funds available to companies your size through lenders or investors. Or you might want to lock down your cash flow and spend time figuring out ways to shorten sales cycles.
Sit down with people on your team to forecast revenue at least half a year into the future. Run several projections and plot ways to get from where you are now to your intended goals. You might be surprised at how having a better handle on your financial choices increases your and your team’s confidence.
- Refine and refresh your workplace culture.
When it comes to resiliency, don’t underestimate the importance of culture. Pay attention to the morale of your staff. Especially after all of the changes to how people live and work over the past year and a half, employees have been through a lot. If they don’t have the proper support at work, they could burn out — which is painful for them and bad for business. According to Harvard Business Review, burnout costs companies in the U.S. a collective $300 billion annually.
You can’t grow your business or navigate through the future without people, so build a supportive culture that puts employees first. As you grow, work with leaders and HR managers to ensure everyone’s adequately equipped and prepared to handle the changes.
Growing your business isn’t just a matter of stretching your resources a bit. It requires tremendous planning to make certain that your business and team have the right attitudes, resources, and workflows to act resiliently.
Written by Rhett Power.
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