Many companies saw a significant dip in business thanks to Covid-19. Essential businesses, meanwhile, are dealing with a different challenge: sudden and unexpected growth.
While they’re still operating, many of these companies face revenue losses compounded by a concurrent supply shortage. At the same time, leaders have scrambled to keep employee engagement and morale high while complying with stringent employee health and safety standards.
During times of disruption, it’s critical to have a plan B for when plan A doesn’t work. The following strategies can prepare companies to navigate any bumps in the road:
1. Don’t be afraid to innovate. For the sake of business continuity, most leaders would rather stay the course than push the envelope with new ideas and services. But times like these are exactly when innovative business solutions are most needed.
There’s a reason an established name like Ford isn’t limiting itself to producing cars right now. In partnership with GE Healthcare and Airon Corp., the auto manufacturer is working to produce 30,000 ventilators a month to meet demand.
And when Covid-19 forced businesses to go remote, our company quickly expanded existing business lines of global employer of record services and added geographic capabilities. We can now work with clients in significantly more countries; we’ve also managed to streamline our efficiency and accomplish global business goals ahead of schedule.
Embrace innovation by listening to customers, vendors, and the rest of the community. Take stock of your organizational competencies while brainstorming solutions that you can provide with just a few tweaks or a strategic partnership.
2. Take advantage of your strengths. Innovation doesn’t have to mean completely abandoning your core business in pursuit of a blue-sky idea. Instead, you should look at the current demand and see where your particular skills best fit.
For World Central Kitchen, that meant using its resources to deliver food to those affected by the pandemic while also keeping its restaurant workers employed. The company used its existing talents to meet the demands of a new market.
3. Recommit to being a good corporate citizen. The importance of corporate social responsibility has only increased in our new reality. Many businesses that have pivoted to meet these new demands haven’t done so to turn a profit — they’ve acted because it was the right thing to do.
Bloom Energy wasn’t content to refurbish old ventilators and make a quick buck. Instead, it worked with Stanford Medical School to develop a ventilator that could be used by many patients at once, making the device more efficient and essential.
4. Prioritize agility and manage risk. It’s important to move resources quickly without disturbing core operations. It might be a huge operational challenge, but it can mean the difference between soaring to new heights and shuttering your business.
Banco Santander is one of the largest banks in Europe, and it has transitioned more than 125,000 employees into remote setups during the pandemic. The company relays 3 million messages and close to 800,000 video and internet calls every day — all while prioritizing employee safety.
Expanding IES into new markets beyond our previous global offerings required knowledge and expertise that exceeded our scope as an organization. We engaged a consultant to educate our team and to help us understand the risks and financial investment. Had we acquired the knowledge more traditionally, this expansion would have taken much longer.
Growth issues in business are common even in the best of times, but these challenges are heightened when the unexpected happens. These tips can help essential businesses create a game plan to fuel success in even the most surprising times.