The classic opening line of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ perfectly captures the way opportunities and disasters show up hand in hand.
This feels like the world that many Kiwi business owners currently find themselves in as they look at a booming economy, full of potential, and wonder how on earth they can pivot from a struggling or recovering business to a booming one. Yet the challenge is blended with opportunity, and your perspective can make all the difference.
Turns out, amongst over 8,000 businesses applying for government support in Auckland, continuity planning and its implementation were one of the most significant areas of need. It’s not really a huge surprise at a time like this, but it shows, if you’re feeling that way, you’re not alone.
Thankfully, you also don’t need to figure it out alone. While there are many businesses needing support, including some of New Zealands’ biggest and best, there are a wide range of specialists that are ready to help you right now, including Redvespa.
Business continuity is something we’ve helped many businesses manage successfully over the years. When it comes to figuring out what to prioritise, Redvespa helps by asking the right questions, getting to the root of your objectives and challenges to make sure you are attempting to solve the right problems. We’ll gladly do all we can to support your business as we all navigate this brave new world.
When working one on one with you, we typically start by making sure everyone is on the same page regarding what business continuity means, and what your goals for the business really are. We work with them you to focus on defining your strategic vision, considering what really matters right now and in the future.
Below we’re outlined four key things we think everyone should consider when establishing a good business continuity plan:
1. Keep the focus on customers.
When we go into survival mode, we often look at our own costs and our own bottom line. While this is often necessary, it should never be done without your customers in front of your mind. How well do you truly know your customers? Once you understand them and their journey, you can design a plan around whatever makes it easy for them to stay loyal to you. The aim is to retain customers and staff by continuing to deliver to their expectations to the best of your ability, in both good times and bad.
2. Have it in mind from strategic planning onwards.
When “something’s got to give”, it’s worth knowing your strategy and focus in order to make robust decisions fast. Many people feel paralysed in their attempt to put together a business continuity plan because it feels like it’s impossible to know how to respond to all of the possible threats that could come up against business as usual.
Often the best solution is to take a step back.
Rather than trying to devise a response to every possible challenge, maintain a clear focus on who you are as a business, what your core strategies are and how these can be maintained in a challenging environment in the broadest sense.
Keep a clear line of sight on your “north star” and use that to guide your preparations and responses. By thinking less about “how you’ll respond” and more about “who are we”, you’ll be well-positioned to consider how you might pivot your operations.
By tying business continuity into strategic conversations from the beginning, businesses are much better placed to respond to the challenges that they face – whether it be struggling with being short-staffed, lack of cash flow, or a sudden loss of customers. Taking such a view will also usually increase investment in business resilience, which puts you in a better position when facing major challenges.
3. Invest in process improvement in advance.
An efficient business is a resilient one, so get right under the hood of why things sometimes go wrong, take longer than they should, give inconsistent results, or use a huge amount of effort for not- very-much return. Inefficiency eats profit for breakfast – so find the inefficiencies. This is a good everyday business practice. It enables you to be lean and agile, which is often what is most needed in tough times.
Sometimes you can’t do everything at once – in fact, sometimes it’s not wise to do so! So, create a prioritised roadmap of the improvements you most need to make. When you know where you are going, you have direction and purpose, and even when problems arise, your long-term objective is front of mind.
4. Have an exit strategy in mind.
The factors driving this current wave of difficult times for business might be different, but running a business was never easy. Businesses come and go regularly – fewer than 27% of businesses started in 2011 are still running today.
In just 10 years, most business owners will have called it quits for one reason or another. Mergers, acquisitions, retirement, lack of cash flow, burnout and straight-up unprofitability are just some of them. It can be worthwhile deciding (in advance) the conditions or indicators that would suggest it’s time for an orderly exit. This can be driven by success (a good time to realise the value of the business), or struggle (get out before it’s too late, that’s wise not shameful).
It is smart to draw a line in the sand and write down at what point you may close the business, sell it, or put it into hibernation. It’s a difficult thing to think about, but being thoughtful and proactive can make a huge difference. There are a lot of benefits to making the decision early.
A good business continuity plan may look quite different to what it did 5 or 50 years ago, but they’ve always needed the same root solutions to problems. So take stock of where you’re at and define what you want from your business over the next five years – while giving yourself permission to consider all the options over the long term. Then you’ll be in the best possible position to create a strategic plan that makes business continuity planning and implementation a lot easier.
Once you’ve taken a step back and know what you want to do next, let’s see how we can help you. Click on the graphic below to book in a free 30-minute call with Jon Foulkes, one of our Principal Consultants, to see if we can help you unleash your business’ potential.
As skilled and experienced business analysts, Redvespa’s Consultants are well placed to help you make a plan, but also to put it into action. We can help you analyse the decisions you need to make and identify the information you need. We understand the importance of the whole journey.
Sam Butcher is a Redvespa Consultant based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. When he’s not helping other SMEs unleash their own potential, Sam has turned a passion for LEGO into his own small business, the Christchurch Brick Shop. You can find Sam on LinkedIn here.
Photo by Taha on Unsplash