Growing Your Business During Difficult Times
"Wow, what a year" this statement has several variations in meaning depending on how 2020 has impacted you and your business. Some businesses have been forced to close permanently or temporarily, and some have been able to weather the storm over the last few months. Those businesses that are still operating all have one thing in common and it is the question of, "How has this experience changed our business and what can I do about it?"
The good thing for these business owners is they can ask this question and seek ways to grow their business during difficult times. When we speak of growth we are not referring to bottom line, customer base, or launching new products. The growth we will discuss is organizational maturity. Organizational maturity is a measure of an organization's readiness and capability to address challenges through continuous process improvement. The five levels of organizational maturity are: Initial, emergent, structured, integrated, and optimized.
As you think about your company and how you are responding to these changes the question that comes to mind is, "How are you caring for the people within your company?". The "Optimized" organization is one that has a strong learning and improving culture. It is managed in a way that empowers it's workforce to contribute to the success of the business and invest heavily into the well-being of their employees. At the heart of every great company are amazing people who are all focused on a common goal. Failure to take care of your people during these difficult times can have a lasting impact on the future of your business. Ensuring that you are placing a priority on work-life balance, encouraging the use of PTO, adding a weekly pause to reflect hour, or limiting virtual meetings on a Friday can go a long way.
While having a strong focus on your people is important, being present in this moment is a must for business owners and executives. One of the greatest assets a leader can possess is clarity of mind during chaotic times. On a daily basis we are faced with meaningful and meaningless distractions in all areas of our life, so being fully present requires discipline. In this moment there are strategic gaps, tactical weaknesses, and leadership failures that are being exposed. Understanding how this is hindering your business is important and doing the things to address these organizational blemishes will prove to be beneficial in the future.
As you continue to think through how you are supporting the maturity of your organization it will be equally important to review your current and future strategies. The impacts businesses have faced over the last 8 months will continue to shape them for years to come. Failure to abandon strategies that does not make sense for future work will result in major loses for businesses and employees. It would be wise for business leaders to review their current and future strategies and ask the tough questions: Is this still relevant to the future of our organization? Does this approach offer sustained alignment where it matters? Do our employees possess the skills required for where we are headed? and Are we measuring the right things today?
Growing your business during difficult times is all about being honest with yourself and your leaders. Ensuring that your employees are a part of the solution will have long-term impacts. As a leader, business owner, or executive it will be extremely important to be present during this time. Be adamant about searching out opportunities and weaknesses within your organization. Once you identify them be equally if not more rigorous in your attempts to address them. Finally remember, in order to move forward you have to have a good understanding of how 2020 has impacted your business, what is working and what isn't, and what is required of you to move your business forward.