Old or New. Which way will you do Business?
A world-wide pandemic has not only changed the way we are as people, it has also changed the way we do business. Social distancing, masks, supply chain issues, and lockdowns mean that business, as we knew it either, has to change and move with the times or take the risk of staying the same and maybe struggling, even closing their doors going under. Some business principles will endure and new adaptations will emerge.
Wait-and-See versus Leap of Faith
There are many statistics quoted about business failure rates. The common theme is that 20-30% of small businesses fail within the first year, and 66-75% failing within the first three years. The full analysis of current failure rates may be higher due to pandemic effects. Some business owners take a wait-and-see approach. They intuitively sit and watch and see what happens before they take action. We have noticed that some businesses have taken the leap of faith, changed what they are doing and moved forward. Such business are doing business differently and as a result their businesses are growing. They are reaping their rewards for their leap of faith. Perhaps it is time for the rest of us to think a little bit differently so we can catch up.
Retire or Stay in the Workforce
While the business environment has changed so has our workforce. Our future workforce might not have a retirement age. Although there have been financial stimulus packages from government during the pandemic, government may continue to extend the retirement age before pensions are paid. Pensions may not keep pace with increased costs of living. Self-funded retirees may also be need to supplement their incomes. More and more of our senior workers may reject the notion of being outdated, not useful or redundant. For many in the western world attitudes have changed as to when old age begins. Education and health measures have definitely expanded the workforce capacity and productivity.
A growing list of business Adaptions
We need to think creatively, differently, to the way we once did. Adapting our business has generated the spark necessary for survival during changed economic circumstances. The adaptions have been different for each different type of business. Gin makers have made hand sanitiser, retail has turned to online shopping, website designers have become proficient in shopify and woocommerce for WordPress, restaurants have turned their attention to take away and the more creative restaurants have started online cooking schools. Doctors now have consultations via tele-health as have lawyers and teachers.
Money and Payment options
I cannot imagine a completely cashless society. However, there has been a huge shift away from cash. Customers have become very comfortable with the use of electronic payments. If we want the customers now, it needs to be easy for them to pay us as this is essential for conversions to sales. The shopping world has moved on from its reliance on cash. There are now more choices for the customer. Will I use cash or will EFT, card, or buy now, pay later be an option, or take over? Will you be offering a cryptocurrency option? Is that what your customers want, then how do you even do that?
Websites and Print Media
A lot of our purchasing habits have moved from print to digital. A good example of this is newspapers and magazines. 20 years ago we used to source our homes, cars, holidays and jobs all from the local newspaper. We spent hours trawling over Saturday’s separate newspaper sections to find what we were looking for. Nowadays we go online to find all these things on dedicated websites. Part of this digitization is the ease of building websites. Whether you use a Digital Agency or a semi do-it-yourself-platform like Wix, your business can have an effective online presence within days or weeks.
Office Buildings and the Laptop Lifestyle
Years ago, we needed to go into the office to conduct our business. Our law firm, accountancy company or architect could only do business in person, in shared spaces. Clients had to find car spaces and attend appointments in person. Documents were signed, handshakes were exchanged, deals were done. Today, with our changing times, we can do that from the comfort of our own home, we don’t need the corporate office space, only a good internet connection, the cloud to store all our work and a laptop computer. Working from home, interstate or internationally has allowed us to reduce the overhead costs for business and increase the connectivity between business and clients. Our shopfronts have changed so much that we now need to ask ourselves, will we go back to the office again, lease premises or have things changed permanently?
Old Business Principles that hold True
In our changed Business world of workforce patterns and technology there remains a use for some tried and true business principles. The laptop business and personal remote working landscape still can benefit from a core of Old Business Principles
- Great communication with our staff
- Building trust with staff and offering more autonomy
- Provide the right tools and environment
- Provide critical feedback
Consistent one on one communications with staff, asking them engaging questions will build relationships. You will be surprised with what they tell you, it is all about how they are feeling, what they think will be solutions to problems or may be how things will work better.
Trust and Autonomy
Building trust with staff and offering more autonomy is a business principle which can take time to develop and refine. While face to face meetings builds rapport and trust, emails can often be misunderstood. Telephone calls can be perceived as less personal. Video has become the newest and best way to have as close to as possible meaningful interactions with staff. Tools like Zoom, Messenger or TeamViewer, Go To Meeting are good, they are user friendly too.
The right tools and environment used to refer to a spacious office with a window overlooking a River. The new version of this old edict refers to ergonomic home office equipment and correct software. Easy to use message and video systems, good storage files such as Dropbox, and good customer relationship management (CRM) software removes the need for a human to do repetitive, time consuming tasks. Even help desks can be fully automated with responses appropriate to the questions asked by customers. The automation or simplification of tasks takes the robot out of the human and allows us, the workforce, to be a resource for creativity and increased productivity. Not surprisingly there is a subsequent increase in employee satisfaction.
Feedback for staff
Providing non-threatening critical feedback to staff helps staff know they are doing what is required of them. Holding regular one on one meetings with staff members to discuss work, what’s coming up, issues and give them positive feedback as well as talking about their strengths and career development will build confident engaged workers in a progressive business.
Growing a business in changed times relies on a blend of old and new principles. People still want to buy your goods or services, that is still the same. Its how you advertise your business, how they find you and communicate to them, how you deliver the goods to them, and how you take their payment that might have changed. Are you ready to incorporate changes or are you still doing business solely in an old fashioned way?