Small businesses are the most vulnerable group when it comes to surviving disasters. Forty percent of small businesses never recover from a major disaster and those that don’t reopen within five days after a disaster usually close for trading within two years.
So all small businesses can benefit from making resilience an everyday conversation and embedding resilience thinking into their organisation’s operations and culture.
Building resilience needs to be done before the crisis arrives, not after. A McKinsey paper sets out nine future-ready qualities that help businesses to be better able to meet any challenges. The nine qualities fall into three broad categories: who we are, how we operate, and how we grow.
1. What is the purpose of your business?
- What is the reason for your business? And does that purpose show up consistently in strategy and decision-making?
In practice the vision for your business trickles down into setting exciting goals, establishing ways to measure progress and defining what a win looks like.
When you provide clear direction on what people are working towards, each person understands why their work matters and is able to connect their work more effectively around that shared purpose.
2. How does your business create value?
In future-ready businesses, the shared purpose translates directly into the business’ value proposition.
What sets you apart from your competition? It is clear to your customers why they should choose your product or service? How and when are you communicating with them?
3. Invest in improving your business culture
While you likely understand that your business’ culture is important, what steps are you actively taking to improve that culture? What are the collective mindset and habits that define how your team goes about their daily work?
Are you nurturing a culture that enhances relationships and prioritises team building, rather than just the bottom line all the time?
Remember that culture starts from the top – as the business owner you need to model the business’ values in your own behaviour, every day.
4. Have a flat structure
Does bureaucracy and hierarchy prevent people from making decisions and showing initiative? If so, you may want to explore simplifying that structure. A “team of teams” is more agile and adaptable compared to a rigid top-down hierarchy.
A flatter structure also leads to more open lines of communication, allowing for an easier flow of ideas, sharing of just-in-time information, pulse checks on the needs of the company, silo breakdowns, and building trust across the business.
Communicate frequently and transparently!
5. Make faster, better decisions
Agility and speed go hand-in-hand, but the real challenge is making good decisions as well. Simplifying the structure will help, but even more crucial is that you delegate, trust and empower your team to make decisions.
Try delegating decisions to the lowest level possible to give your staff the agency to make decisions fast and well.
6. Take care of your people
The pandemic has driven home the fact that great staff is a business’ greatest resource. The first step is to understand what talent you need and then how to attract and keep that talent.
Invest money and time in training and educating your staff and as well as encouraging, supporting and mentoring them.
Also take the time to focus on your team’s mental health. Regularly check in with them, show genuine concern for people’s wellbeing and take action to balance workloads and lessen the pressure.
7. See your business as part of a larger whole
Your business doesn’t operate in a silo. You have customers and suppliers and in order to grow your business you need a strong network and productive partnerships.
Take the time to know your business neighbours, think about how you can help other businesses and how you can all work together collectively for greater impact.
8. Be informed and use the data
Engage consistently with your chamber of commerce, your local council, government at all levels and emergency services organisations. These people will be key decision makers particularly during and after a disaster and you will need access to critical information in order to empower yourself and your team.
Also make your business decisions based on data. Streamline your workflows, simply processes for better productivity and use data to bring in new products and services and to offer better customer and employee experiences.
9. Be willing to take risks, learn and adapt
If you want your business to be able to respond quickly and effectively to a crisis then develop a culture that embraces change and constant evolution.
Have the courage to take risks, support constant learning and be willing to adapt through iteration and your business will be less vulnerable to disruption and unexpected challenges.