Is your business agile enough to survive through times of volatility? Here is how your small business can adopt a more agile business model to keep growing through market disruptions.
A Greek philosopher once said that change is the only constant in life. Heraclitus of Ephesus knew that this was true for all life – and business too. Experts have been speaking about disruption as the new normal for nearly a decade. We’ve known for some time that huge upheaval is part of the deal.
For many small businesses, the COVID-19 crisis has shed light on the need for organizational agility. Moving forward, your business will benefit from the ability to enact rapid and drastic change in these increasingly volatile times.
Let’s investigate what business agility is, why it’s important and how you can move towards a more flexible model that will help you survive any changes or disruptions in the future.
What is Business Agility?
Business agility can be defined as a company’s ability to adapt and respond to changes in their immediate competitive environment. If a business can consistently identify and capture opportunities – no matter the economic climate – then they are successfully agile.
For a small business, agility is related to your ability to orient, adapt and change in a fast-paced, ambiguous and often volatile market place. This ability was tested when the recent global pandemic forced businesses to close, and people to work from home.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, organizational agility is far less common than it should be in today’s unstable economic climate.
For a business to be agile it must have two things – a stable foundation, and the ability to respond quickly and decisively to change.
Why is it Important Right Now?
There are specific reasons why business agility is important for your business right now. These take a major paradigm shift into account, and the various changes happening all over the world.
- The digital evolution has brought with it the fundamental requirement to adapt to disruptive change. Without agility, a business will not be able to compete with new technologies that are being released. Consider AI and machine learning for example.
- Disruptive technologies are constantly changing the world and the marketplace. Digital transformation as a cultural imperative is required to help companies leverage current strategies, technologies and their capacity to change at any given time.
- Climate change will slow global economic growth, and result in a number of challenges for businesses operating in certain areas. Consider the increase in floods, lack of natural resources, animal species extinctions, and the rise in global pandemics.
- As the economy faces disruption, a mini war for talent is taking place. The winners will be businesses who can offer creative and valued individuals both stability, and the ability to adapt to change. In other words, agile companies will be in demand.
5 Ways a Small Business Can Become More Agile
Your small business must make business agility a priority in 2020. COVID-19 is just the start of a long list of challenges that you could face. With an agile model, you will future-proof your company.
#1: Give Your Team the Tools for Change
The first step to organizational agility, is to adopt it as part of your work culture. Gallup recently conducted a study and discovered something interesting. On a list of factors that drove agility, co-operation and speed of decision-making took first place.
A change in mindset then, is the first way your small business can become more agile. Create a team culture that reflects your belief in an ever-changing environment. Train your people for change!
Give them the tools, processes and procedures that they need to make agile decisions, in response to market turbulence. Use how your team responded to COVID-19 as a starting point.
#2: Invest in Robust IT Infrastructure
The second way is to take a good look at your business’s infrastructure. Investing in robust, managed and easy-to-change IT infrastructure is a great decision in this climate.
To be more agile your small business needs a strong platform that provides stability and collaboration for your people during times of change. A business website, based on solid WordPress hosting and WordPress design can be that for your company.
- Always be in the cloud and work from anywhere
- Make fast amendments to your website
- Add or remove products and services
- Use collaboration tools to connect with employees and customers
- Save time and money while still being fully agile
- Track and analyze customer behavior
It’s the evolving architecture that you need to stay current, and it comes with an expanding list of tools for your team. Quickly add an online store, a blog, manage your new products and services – or host your live webinars onsite. WordPress enables small business agility.
#3: Learn to Listen and Create Opportunity First
It’s important that your business learns to anticipate market needs so that you can quickly respond to opportunities as they arise. This means dialing into your niche, truly understanding your customers and having your ear to the ground at all times.
Ecommerce business owners that acted fast during the rise of COVID-19 are still benefiting from those quick reactions. Online stores that stocked up on PPE equipment, masks, gloves and sanitizing gear early in the outbreak made significant sales and profits.
In Rockridge, a clothing designer switched to making masks and sold 2000 of them in 24 hours. When your business is constantly listening and looking for opportunity, you benefit the most.
#4: Focus on Customer Relationships and Service
To become more agile you need to focus on customer service and the relationships that you have with your customers. Many small businesses realized the value of their social media presence when COVID-19 struck. Without a loyal, engaged customer base – they would have lost their revenue.
- Immediate communication
- Outstanding customer service
- Constant contact through website, chat and social media
- Support through gift vouchers, contests and discounts
Thanks to existing connections, these companies were able to quickly orientate their customer base on changes happening in their businesses. Agile customer support is an essential in times of uncertainty. You can retain and re-orientate income streams with strong buyer relationships.
#5: Stay Updated on The Latest Niche Developments
Whatever niche your business operates in, you need to become an expert in that niche. Stay updated on the latest trends and developments, and make connections in your field.
Business agility isn’t just about internal flexibility, it’s also about reacting to external influences in a way that can benefit your business. This means understanding technological developments that might disrupt your market. It means networking with innovators and collaborating with other teams.
And it means taking action to develop your products or services in a way that will keep you ahead of your competition. Stay relevant, stay in-demand and understand where your niche is going to get there first.
Agile small businesses can’t operate in a silo. First, you need a strong platform to act as a springboard for your agile team. This will be your business website.
If you don’t have a website that is managed by a professional and supportive team, Yahoo Hosting is an amazing platform that gives you the ability to be agile in the face of disruptive change. Once you have your platform in place, give your team the tools they need to respond to these changes.
Through training, listening and watching out for opportunities as they arise – your team will learn to be more agile over time. Focus on building long lasting connections with your customers so that they are willing to change with you, and continue their support.
Finally, always know what is coming next in your niche. Connect with others who may have insight into how to keep your products and services selling through turbulent times.