Thoughtful Business

Thinking our way to better business.

Life is slowly returning to some form of normality or the 'new normal' and it is time for startups and small/medium sized enterprises (sme's) to consider how they do business. As we reflect on the last few months, we consider new ways we have had to work, the impact of prompt decision making followed by rapid mobilisation and the importance of our human resource.

Prior to Covid-19, business leaders were typically slow to adopt new initiative, technologies and operating models. The adoption of such changes were often laborious with teams being tasked to assess viability, develop models then report back on whether the idea was worth implementing. Within medium sized organisation, we would typically her people say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.". This was indicative of how the businesses felt about change. Startups and small businesses would always consider the cost to them while ignoring the return on investment (ROI). Uncertain times have forced businesses of all sized to do things in a different way and many have changed their models and technologies rapidly in order to remain active in the market. At Zander and Black, we believe in flexibility, resilience and a willingness to adapt. We have been reflecting on the last few months on what can be learned from the recent experiences and how businesses can deliver sustained improvement from the lessons learnt

Be willing to do things differently.

2020 had been an interesting year for business and there is no question that the last few month have forced businesses to make radical changes in a short amount of time. Office-based teams have been forced to work remotely with meeting being held virtually. Many businesses have had to drastically change their business models to in a short amount of time to allow them to continue to meet demand. At this stage, we have to recognise those businesses that have been quick to respond and prompt to adapt. It goes without saying that in times like these that the challenges become apparent as treats and weaknesses are exposed. Businesses have been forced to scramble to find solution that will allow their workforce to work remotely while contemplating the health and wellbeing of their people. The consideration of strategy vs short term solutions has forced business to think about they way in which they operate, utilise technology and how they respond. On the other side, we have also seen those that have refused to acknowledge the changes in the economic environment and have remain stubborn in the face of change. Sadly, a lot of those businesses have shut their doors permanently with those who were in charge still trying to figure out where they went wrong.

Data backed intuition.

We often admire experienced business leader who have grown or turned businesses around by making decisions based on instinct or a gut feeling. Impressively, these business leaders know their market so well that they can sense when changes in the organisation or market before they are presented with the data. We know these leaders to be flexible, adaptive and entrepreneurial which often gives them a competitive edge in their market. This skillset is impressive and cannot be taught. It takes a certain type of person and a lot of experience to operate in that way. However, we do live in an age of technology and have access to amazing resources. We cannot force intuition but we can examine and understand data. All business leaders have access to tools and resources that provide them with valuable data. As the current economic environment changes at a rapid rate, good decisions are made by those you utilise insights and analytics to make decisions whether or not intuition played a part. Whether you rely on intuition or not, being a smart decision maker will allow you to grow in experience.

Invest in people.

Many businesses agree that their human resource is often their largest expense. This is a big area of spending which management often seek to reduce as best as they can. We often see this manifest itself with startups and SME's where people often have to multiple hats, helping to support across areas that aren't their forte. During tough times, this pressure is increase and we find individuals struggling to maintain their workload and well being. This is not conducive to a productive environment and just leads to greater costs. Businesses need to look at their people for who they really are - They are individuals firstly and then a resource in their organisation. As all resources, the more you invest to maintain a high level of quality, the better the resource and greater the outcome.
As the economy re-opens, business owners and management need to consider what they have learned from having to deal with all the restrictions imposed on them due to covid-19. Businesses have had to rapidly change their operating models and figure out how to mobilise their workforce and maximise their productivity through the varied ways of working. Furthermore, businesses have been forced to consider the well-being of their staff and now recognise that a happy/healthy workforce is a productive workforce. If covid-19 has proved something to businesses, it is this - Investing in people is smart as people are resilient and adaptable. Moving forward, businesses need to consider how they can utilise technology, outsourcing partners and improved processes to empower their people to achieve more for their businesses without stressing the human resource.

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