Every business is two businesses. So, are you working on your ‘future’ business too?
Fostering innovation will not only help you thrive in today’s environment, but help you prepare for whatever lies ahead.
By Jim Vass
Covid-19 has delivered a very big wake up call for Australian small and micro-sized businesses. The harsh and tragic reality is that even despite government economic stimulus, many thousands of businesses won’t survive 2020.
And the single reason for this is … they were not prepared.
Does that sound overly critical? After all, none of us could have predicted a global pandemic on the back of our own droughts and bushfires.
But when you’re building a successful business you need to incorporate a tolerance for uncertainty. It needs to be embedded in your culture. So that you can prepare for any eventuality.
Disruption has come in many forms, and at a particularly fast pace, over the past couple of decades. Many businesses have been able to acclimate and soldier on.
And that’s a good thing. But if you want your business to survive well into the future, you need to do more than that. You need to be embracing change and evolving, because if you’re not evolving, you’re not growing and if you’re not growing, you’re stagnating. And stagnating means standing still.
Every business needs to mitigate risk. And you can cover yourself with insurance for many of them.
But not every business is able to mitigate unforeseen risk. And that’s the key difference between the winners and the losers. The successes and the failures. Because some risks are predictable, others, as we’ve all experienced with Covid-19, are not.
But the good news is that you can learn to tolerate uncertainty. You can build it into your business culture.
It’s my firm belief that every business owner should be running two businesses. The one they are operating today, and the one that will be required in the future.
For example, at ATB Partners we were early adopters of cloud technology. For us as a partnership, it offered the ideal kind of freedom we were all looking for – the ability to work from anywhere, anytime. In addition, it was going to provide some cost-efficiencies around administration in a profession that’s pretty heavy on the paperwork.
Initially it was a big investment and there was a degree of financial risk involved. Plus, we had to carefully consider the potential risks associated with having all of our confidential data stored in a ‘cloud’, which in the early days was not as secure as it is today. And it meant upskilling our people.
But these were risks we were comfortable taking and we put plans, and contingency plans, in place to adopt the new technology and change the core of our business operations. No mean feat, particularly when you’re running your business at the same time as you’re trying to change it.
We’ve never looked back. And, when Covid-19 became a serious health risk, we were able to send our people ‘home to work’ pretty seamlessly. Minimal disruption. Minimal downtime. We had to make adaptations for team collaboration and working with clients via online platforms like zoom, but we were able to keep operating. Very smoothly.
While you won’t know the outcome of every business decision you make, you must, must, MUST, as a business owner, be keeping an eye on where you are headed. And you must take a well-assessed risk from time to time.
Build yourself a team of key people and spend time each week or each month, focused solely on brainstorming new ideas and technologies, considering what you might need, to get to where you want to be.
If you do this, you’re working towards ‘future-proofing’ your business, and that’s critical.
But more than that, this kind of creative thinking benefits your business in every way, at every stage. And you never know where the best ideas are going to come from, so encourage your people to bring you their considerations and inspirations.
Right now, for many businesses, the focus is simply ‘getting back on track’ and yes, it’s absolutely a priority.
But if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to build businesses that are adaptable, nimble, forward-thinking, and always on the lookout for opportunity. Those businesses poised on the front foot, are more likely to be prepared for whatever comes next – whether it be advantageous or potentially disastrous.
At ATB, we’ve spent many years mentoring businesses. And one of the invaluable ways we can assist is to give you a fresh perspective, and some strategies to help you take control of your business in any circumstances. If you’d like our help, contact us.