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Business Agility: Surviving Uncertainty

Anticipating, preparing, and responding to unforeseen events, such as COVID-19, is a strategy must for businesses. But how can business owners prepare themselves? And what makes for a good strategy in highly uncertain business environments?

The Timelio team speaks to businesses across many industries daily. The common factors for surviving uncertain times are a combination of strategic readiness, awareness, seeing uncertainty as an opportunity, agility, leadership, collaboration and innovation.

Here is a list of observations we’ve made through our conversations on what defines that “strategic readiness.”

UNDERSTAND YOUR FINANCIAL POSITION

Cash flow is critical, especially if your existing income and trade has seen significant change in times of uncertainty.

It is essential to settle on a plan of action based on your current financial position but also be mindful of future changes. A crystal ball would always help to ascertain economic confidence or what a new “normal” may look like, no matter the industry, but it’s important to continue to plan out scenarios and ensure your business minimises negative impacts.

Your ability to trade through this COVID-19 period will undoubtedly have already changed. It is likely you’ve already had to consider your employees position at this time, but it’s as important as ever to consider any outstanding debts that you are able pay immediately.

As an example of the current situation, one path you can explore is to assess your current leasing contracts and determine if they are able to be negotiated if you haven’t already gone down this path.

See our article: Rent Relief for Australian Businesses

It’s a lot to cover, but definitely seek advice from your accountant or advisor to discuss the various options which are available. See our Australian JobKeeper FAQ’s here.

ANALYSE THE STRENGTHS OF YOUR BUSINESS

Understanding how the changing world will impact you and your customers now and in the future is important to surviving uncertainty.

Your analysis can be broken down into immediate impacts and future impacts and should involve all key areas of your business from operations to product development to sales and marketing.

This will help you understand what your business does well and your strengths in the market where you should focus your efforts and adapt if required. This may include mapping your customer journey and the interactions that are no longer possible in a changing environment.

In our ever-increasing digital world, moving your business into the digital space was inevitable, but the current circumstances may escalate your need to do so.

REVISIT YOUR MARKET POSITION AND YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS

Reflecting on how you are positioned in the market and how market needs are changing will help you understand where you need to adapt. Is your product or service still valuable? How has the market changed and what value can you provide to customers during this time? If your offering is still relevant and in demand this will put you in a strong position. If you focus on service rather than exploitation, you will undoubtedly connect more authentically with your customers.

If the environment changes, then so do your target customers, but more specifically the way you engage with them and provide value will need to pivot. Behaviours, needs and wants are very different and understanding your customers habits and goals is something that should be continually reassessed.

INNOVATION AND TRANSFORMATION

The term “innovation” can be overused and seen as a buzzword, but doing something new is valuable to your market proposition and differentiates you from the competition.

There are great examples of global technology businesses that stemmed from the opportunities following the global financial crisis; Airbnb is one example of this.

Innovation is born out of redefining problems, providing value and testing the market. During COVID-19 we have seen breweries and distilleries making hand sanitiser, 3D printing startups printing medical equipment, fashion houses making protective clothing and taxi companies transitioning into delivery companies and so on.

COLLABORATION AND NETWORKING

This is an important time to reach out to your networks for support and advice. Being able to maintain some control over your situation is good for your positive mental health. Keep communicating with your support networks and speak with other business owners to share ideas and innovative practices. There are many webinars and community groups offering expert advice on digital transformation during this time. Attending these events will help keep your finger on the pulse and being connected can only be a good thing.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The willingness of others to help is humbling, often with little expectation of anything in return. You just have to ask.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR STAKEHOLDERS AND CUSTOMERS

Remember to keep your stakeholders updated: customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders are all critical to your ongoing success.

With so many communication channels, you can communicate with stakeholders via email, website, social channels. You can also update your trading hours on Google My Business to ensure all your digital assets are consistent.

For employees and shareholders, it’s important that they understand the direction of the business, how you are impacted and what they should do during this time. Concise and clear information is paramount and be prepared to answer any questions they may have.

KEEP INFORMED OF CHANGES

Seeking out trusted sources of information is an important way that you can keep up with the latest developments for business owners.

As we continue to navigate our way through uncertain scenarios it’s important to find reliable sources that can proactively assist your business.

To understand how Timelio can assist with your business plans or for any Government COVID-19 announcement advice feel free to call us on 1300 38 63 63 or email us to speak with one of our experts.

Here’s a list of trusted resources we’ve found useful:

Australian Government Business Website

Business Victoria

Small Business Development Corporation WA

Smart Company Government Subsidy Summary

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman 

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