Business

Five tips for building resilience in your business


Small businesses were among the first to respond amid the uncertainty at the start of the pandemic. Small-batch brewers started making hand sanitiser, design agencies started 3D printing face visors and pubs and cafes pivoted to provide the essentials for local people.

Agility and flexibility were key in riding out the disruption of the virus, and small businesses had it in spades. But as lockdown conditions stretched out, and constraints eventually began to lift, smaller businesses found themselves facing new tests of their resilience.

The ‘new’ or ‘next’ normal that Covid-19 has ushered in will bring its own unique challenges. Here’s what small businesses can do to ensure they remain resilient at all times.

Establish a mission statement

A mission statement isn’t just an empowering phrase or strapline, it’s a motto to guide your business, through the good times and the tough times. The best mission statements tell you what the business does, who it comprises, and, perhaps most importantly, why it exists.

According to its mission statement, Tesla exists ‘to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy’. LinkedIn wants ‘to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful’. Cisco aims ‘to shape the future of the internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners’.

All of these mission statements revolve around verbs and goals: they’re active, engaging, and ongoing – all key attributes of resilience. Your mission statement should be something to live by, which means it needs to make sense when you turn to it in hard times too.

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…and live by it

If you were to ask all of your employees and colleagues what your company mission statement is, how confident would you be that they would all know it by heart? Or even able to come close with a guess? Chances are, many of them won’t know it. But that’s not their fault. Your mission statement is something that should be embedded as a way of life and part of the everyday working culture of your organization.

It should make as much sense for people working in an office environment as it does for those who work remotely. And it should be supported by training and skills development programs too.

Any decision made within the business should make sense in the context of your mission statement.

Know how to respond to disruption

Using your mission statement as a guide, assess how well-equipped your business is to be responsive, agile, and adaptable in the face of disruption. Disruption could be anything from a competitor appearing with a cheaper offering and smarter marketing or an unprecedented global pandemic that turns the market on its head entirely.

While the former of these examples is easier to predict than the latter, they both emphasize the importance of thinking ahead: scanning the horizon for proactive future challenges and opportunities.

Arm yourself with the facts – and stay focused

Remain vigilant, establish a reliable means of monitoring the effect any disruption is having on your business, benchmark it, and check back and report at a regular clip.

Perhaps most importantly of all, however, don’t allow the disruption to absorb undue focus. Business leaders should acknowledge and invest in the trends that could pose a risk to your organisation, and put your core business front and center.

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Again, look back at your mission statement, does it include anything about being sidelined by new disruptive technology or a global event? No? Then continue on with your stated mission, while being mindful of how those disruptions might impact your ability to do so.

Adjust your view of technology: how can it help you?

New technologies – or the way organizations use them – are often associated with the way they disrupt businesses, as opposed to how they enable new ways of doing things.

For example, Deliveroo was a disrupter before it helped Covid-struck restaurants pivot to offering a lockdown delivery service. Similarly, small businesses that had already considered remote working setups were better placed to deal with lockdown than those that had resisted the change.

But it shouldn’t take a global pandemic to teach the importance of resilience planning, it should be baked in as standard. It’s an organizational imperative, and events like the current outbreak simply exaggerate this fact.

Investing in a robust digital infrastructure should be considered the first stage of this journey towards greater resilience.



Cisco is helping to support small businesses to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19, explore how by heading to the website, cisco.com.



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