Ever since the start of the pandemic, it feels like it’s been one thing after another for SMBs. We’re now living a “new normal”, but it doesn’t really feel that normal at all.
The war in Ukraine, extreme weather events, sky-high energy prices and lingering supply chain issues are making it hard to run a successful business right now.
So what do we do?
We can’t wait around for the world to right itself. Instead, business leaders need to future-proof their organisations, which means developing resilient business processes.
Why is resilience so important for SMBs?
As we’ve all seen over the past couple of years, the world can change quickly and dramatically.
Like never before, resilience needs to be built into company strategy. Because a resilient business is better able to deal with whatever the world and the markets throw at it next.
A resilient company is leaner and more agile. This means you are better able to deal with challenges like:
- The effects of the climate crisis
- Resource and labour shortages
- Economic recession
- Supply chain disruption
- A cyber attack
- Public health crises
- High energy prices
To stage a resilient response to these challenges, you need to have the foresight to anticipate issues and the ability to adapt to meet them.
How can you make your SMB more resilient?
‘Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.’ Benjamin Franklin’s words seem particularly apt right now.
Worst-case scenario planning avoids the chaotic scramble right after a disaster strikes. With a comprehensive plan, you can go straight into mitigation mode, limiting a disaster’s effect on your business.
Start by thinking about how you would deal with various scenarios — a worsening recession, another pandemic, a cyber security breach, or a fire at your warehouse.
But don’t just focus on the negatives. You should plan for success too.
What happens as your business starts to scale? How will you find the right talent? How will you finance your growth?
Create plans for both best and worst cases, and revisit them regularly, updating them in line with any recent developments. Also, decide which trigger points you’ll look for when determining whether it’s the right time to implement a plan.
Proper planning will help you react quickly and decisively regardless of the events you face.
Find your resiliency leaders
Appoint at least one person in your company to act as your “resiliency leader”. This person (or people) should be in charge of your risk management, anticipating what could go wrong, finding preemptive solutions and fully understanding the plans for different situations.
Your resiliency leader becomes the point of contact for everyone in the company in case of an emergency. This helps prevent a situation where different teams within the company devise their own fragmented disaster response.
Instead, you have a comprehensive, easy-to-implement action plan that everyone can follow.
Think about financials
Financial resilience is crucial for any business. When you have the right level of capital and liquidity, you have the financial cushion you need to cope with a sudden spike in costs or a drop in sales.
Remember, though, that it’s not just a case of hunkering down and weathering the storm. The period of unpredictability we’re living through doesn’t look set to end any time soon. So you need to plan for growth and investment, not just maintaining your margins.
You should also try to diversify your income streams. This helps keep your business from collapsing if one area runs into trouble.
Consider your whole supply chain
You’re only as strong as the weakest link in your supply chain. So you need to look closely at the people you choose to work with.
Consider the level of resilience that your partners and suppliers have built into their own business strategies. Then categorise your suppliers and partners according to risk before reconfiguring your network to lower that risk across your supply chain.
Use technology to hone your operations
Adapting to drastic change is really hard if you still rely on manual processes. That’s because things tend to take longer and are more prone to error when you don’t have the right technology in the mix.
Imagine you had just one person in charge of updating your inventory spreadsheet. What happens if that person suddenly quits or has to take extended sick leave? How will you pick up the slack?
Tech can help you automate inventory management, orders, payroll, and so many other manual processes.
From billing to customer service to training to hiring, tech solutions make your operations faster, more efficient, and more effective. They also give you access to incredibly valuable data that you can use to further hone your processes, making them ever more streamlined and adaptable.
Technology and data give you the tools you need to pivot when faced with challenging circumstances.
Communicate early and often
A big part of business resilience is communication. In the event of a crisis, you want to keep your team, customers, and suppliers properly informed.
As ever, planning is key. Figure out how and when you will communicate with different groups in response to different crises.
Also, work on building strong, communicative relationships when things are smooth sailing. Seek feedback from employees. Err on the side of over-communicating with partners and suppliers so they never feel left in the dark. Long-standing, open and honest relationships provide a good foundation for emergency communication.
Get help from experts when you need it
Don’t know where to begin making your business processes more resilient? Then don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Here at Workhorse, we’re inventory experts. With our software, you can automate inventory and order management, streamlining your processes and making them more resilient.
Because you can pick and choose the features and functionality you need, our software is adaptable and affordable. And with access to lots of amazing inventory data, you have the real-world stats you need to inform your future plans.
Want to get Workhorse on your team? Then sign up for your free trial today!