The Covid-19 pandemic was one of the most disruptive events in recent memory. It’s not just the global economy that’s been impacted, but also our personal lives and the way we do business. For small businesses, in particular, the pandemic served as a wake-up call, highlighting the importance of preparing for the future in a constantly-changing world. Economic recession, natural disasters, and other unforeseen events can have a major impact on small businesses. But is there anything you can do to make sure your business is resilient in the face of such challenges?
The first step is to recognize the new reality. The world is changing faster than ever before, and businesses need to adapt quickly to stay ahead of the competition. Things that were once taken for granted, such as stable economies and predictable weather patterns, are no longer a given. Ira S. Wolfe, a prominent American author and host of Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization podcast, has called this new era “never normal” because the rules keep changing.
“We are going to live in this era of perpetual uncertainty,” Wolfe said in a recent interview, adding that the notion that we can go back to “normal” is dangerous because it gives us a false sense of security.
“It sort of gives us the safety or comfort that we can be complacent. We are just going to go back and be able to take a deep breath and relax, and yet we live in a world that is VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.”
Once you recognize the new reality, you need to create a strategic plan. A strategic plan is essential for any business looking to survive and thrive in a changing world. The plan should outline your company’s goals and how you plan to achieve them. It should also include contingencies in case of unexpected events. The plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the business environment. But the most critical component of any strategic plan is the workforce. Your team needs to be agile and adaptable, able to respond quickly to changes in the market.
“More than 60% of a company’s future roles can be filled by current employees, assuming that adequate programs are in place,” wrote Michael Mankins, Eric Garton, and Dan Schwartz in an article for the Harvard Business Review, citing research by Bain & Company on 300 companies around the world.
“Reskilling is also cheaper than the “fire and hire” model for filling new business-critical roles. For one thing, the direct costs of severance associated with workforce reductions can be substantial—as can damage to the morale of remaining team members,” they wrote.
This view is echoed by Simon Sinek in his best-selling book, “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.” Based on empirical studies, Sinek’s book concludes that leaders who develop a “people first” company culture are more successful at surviving disruptive events like the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To treat people like family and not as mere employees. To sacrifice the numbers to save the people and not sacrifice the people to save the numbers,” wrote Sinek. “Leaders of organizations who create a working environment better suited for how we are designed do not sacrifice excellence or performance simply because they put people first. Quite the contrary. These organizations are among the most stable, innovative and high-performing companies in their industries.”