It takes a village to transform your business. 5 steps to start your planning today!
As business owners or managers, continuous workflow assessment and improving on your workplace solutions are important components of your planning.
The pandemic, along with its struggles, disruptions, and accelerated forces, inspired what are now revolutionary changes for many businesses, while navigating through many challenges. Thriving in the new normal, semi-forced digital alterations and the re-evolving economy required businesses to reimagine their processes, operational costs, and internal workflow expectations while maintaining their customer relationships.
Making a shift in how we conduct our business is a huge undertaking not only financially but also emotionally for everyone. The words ‘remote’ and ‘virtual’ sound ideal to saving costs but between deciding on the ideal workspace space, technology solutions, and managing staff. Not only as a business owner or manager, are you adapting to a new environment, but also managing the emotions and dilemmas of your staff. It can become very overwhelming very quickly.
During the pandemic, our customers were patient with us and understood. As the months went by a new normal set in. Online meetings and virtually negotiating deals was accepted way of conducting business.
But, as the world slowly resumes to an in-person environment again, as a business, will we pivot again? If we don’t continue to evaluate and respond to the changing business environment and the needs of our customers, we can get left behind.
So what do you do, when you know your business must undergo a transformation to survive? How do you begin, gather information and figure out your starting point?
Here are 5 steps to help you identify and re-establish a plan for your long-term business goals. You can bring in the right consultant or expertise to help you at any time or work with one of your key staff members. You don’t have to do this alone.
Step 1 – Segment your business into key areas
Get in front of a whiteboard or take pen to paper and create some categories to help segment your business into buckets. This will help you identify and understand the gaps in each area. For example:
1. Workflow from sales to service
2. People vs. tasks vs. departments in your business
3. Your current or future technology
4. Products or services that require modifications vs new products or services.
When you begin to fill in each bucket with what you do today and add in what you need to start or modify, it will help you gain a perspective of what changes need to happen both strategically and with operations. This will be different for each business but generically speaking, the above points are fairly typical to most businesses.
Step 2 – Flag the areas you feel need improvement or change.
The key here is to identify the bottlenecks that are hindering our growth. They can present themselves in the form of technology, specific roles, misaligned attitudes, inefficient tasks & processes, etc.
Write specific questions that you want answers or insights into, such as what new technology can make my day easier, which of my departments can go remote, what products or services are key to my business.
This is also the time to think more focused about your wishlist. This could be new staff, new services, new technology or change in workflow. This helps one to establish a direction.
Step 3 – Connect with your key staff, front line
This is an important step that involves input from others to ensure you are aligned with your team on the change in trajectory. Your core team can immediately tell you what’s working vs what’s no longer working. Engaging them from the onset of this undertaking is vital to bringing about change.
A tip here is to start with a survey or small team meetings with your staff. Be clear on the objective, stay focused in obtaining answers to your questions, be a good listener and take lots of notes. Just make sure that any meetings don’t lose focus and turn into a complaining session.
Step 4. Connect with your key vendor partners
Your vendor partners can give you great insights into similar businesses or competitors in your industry. They more often than not, are observing many different trends in your specific niche and can even suggest the latest technology out there that might be better suited to your business. A casual lunch meeting can lead to great suggestions on how you can change without placing too much pressure on your business.
Step 5 – Evaluate the information and feedback you have received
Can you identify the critical areas that need to address immediately? Are there any commonalities, key trends, consistent answers? Compare your feedback from your staff and vendor partners to the information you collected about the current workflow. This will immediately help you determine whether you are on point with your observations and aligned with your team.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
The above steps are a great way to revisit your strategy, bring about the right changes and most importantly to plan financially for growing your business.
For many of the challenges, there is probably a business technology app that can make workflows more manageable. Or perhaps, hiring people with new skill sets is the answer. Before undertaking any of these, ensure you have a plan in place and whatever new additions you bring on, whether people, process or technology, do make sure it aligns with your plan, can be incorporated within your process within a set time frame, and most importantly, train your staff to not only adapt to the change but adopt the change.
My biggest recommendation here will be to not be afraid to bring in the right expertise – whether new or from within the company who can offer a new perspective as well as the micro strategy to tackle the immediate needs of your organization. Investing in organizational consultants or staff members who are solely focused on your operations is instrumental to business owners making the right shift at the right time at their pace. Furthermore, a progressive organization also attracts great talent and hiring opportunities.
Thank you for reading this blog. I would love to hear back from you. If you have some small business tips or recommendations to add, please share them in the comments section of this blog.