What happens to businesses when a crisis takes hold? For many, it’s not good news, with moves sometimes damaging the company in the long run – something we’ve seen plenty of in recent years with Covid, the cost of living crisis, and the majority of Europe on the verge of a recession. In the most extreme cases, we’ve even seen businesses strive to remain open amidst ongoing conflict – as they look to maintain a service that keeps consumers and employees connected to normality.
This speaks of the importance of these businesses and reminds us that they represent livelihoods and to a large extent, escapism. It is therefore imperative that, as we go into another tricky year, businesses grow increasingly innovative in keeping afloat; not through kneejerk cost-cutting, or closures – but increased resilience and innovative solutions to keep forward momentum.
The age of business resilience
For many businesses right now, the need to grow more resilient will not come as a surprise with the state of ‘permacrisis’ they find themselves in. Yet the good news is that there’s an opportunity to safeguard their organisation, not just against immediate challenges, but future unforeseen ones.
This long-term thinking is essential, especially as McKinsey observes that “catastrophic events will grow more frequent but less predictable.”
But where should businesses start in growing more resilient to them? Time will not slow, and, according to our own research, as many as 56% of SMEs operating in countries across Europe and Africa describe their own business as unprepared for the future.
Below, I outline three key areas businesses can focus on to grow increasingly resilient in the long term and prepare themselves, not just for 2023, but for whatever the future has in store.
Build your business model around people and performance
For a business to be able to take unforeseen challenges in its stride, it must be able to quickly adapt to new circumstances without applying the brakes and losing momentum, revenue, and customers. It also means putting systems in place to protect its people too. Whether from something like the pandemic (remote working setups, social distancing in the office) or the cost of living crisis (early salary payments, financial well-being assistance).
Instead of waiting for the next crisis to determine their next policy, businesses should weave flexibility, collaboration, and productivity more into their overall business model. This way, even in happier times for the economy, your team still benefits from the wide-ranging positive business model policies such as flexible working and digitalisation bring to connectivity and well-being.
Your business model should be built around empowering your people to deliver great results, and not pin them down to inflexible ways of working that lack personalisation. This not only covers ways of working but the roles people have too.
Future-proof yourself with technology
Today, inflation and an ongoing energy crisis continues to put pressure on the business margins of small to medium enterprises (SMEs). The harsh reality is that this has come at a time when 75% of business owners are struggling to cope with changing consumer behaviour in search of more affordable and digital options.
What can help is technology. We might expect that most businesses today to be fully digitalised, yet the reality is that only 20% of merchants globally are conducting business online – a statistic drastically out of step with the fact that the majority of consumers continue to prefer to do their shopping online.
Digitising their products and services can prime SMEs for resilience and even growth in what is a continually challenging time. The reality is that while they overcome other business challenges, without digitalising their business, SMEs will only even manage to stand still – not move forward.
By getting their digital transformation underway, SMEs are also opening themselves up to an increasing range of data insights from their consumers – keeping pace with untapped demographics and changing consumer tastes – while also having the digital outreach capabilities, through marketing and advertising, to reach these customers and increase their own visibility.
In an era where 56% of SMEs globally, and 80% of those in the UK, are unprepared for their future, digitalisation ensures they are doing everything they can to reach customers, optimise operations, and ensure time-savings so that business leaders can move their attention from the day-to-day to the bigger impact work that matters most.
For some businesses, the idea of further investment at this time might be problematic – but there are sustainable business options available to them through support programs from bigger sector players – Glovo Local, for instance – where solutions and services, (from advertising and growth solutions to operational and other digital solutions) can be hand-picked based on their needs.
Resilience is about much more than survival
Resilience is not about short-term survival, but long-term agility and productivity. This is good news for businesses whose growth ambitions seemingly haven’t been slowed by the business forecast, with 82% of SMEs across Europe saying they’re targeting significant growth in the next 12 months.
Doing business resilience right can mean businesses come out the other side of a crisis better for it, and ready for whatever lies ahead.
Lead image: Khamkéo Vilaysing