If there’s anything we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic it’s change can happen at any time, and it pays to be prepared for the unpredictable. With the likelihood of global crises increasing, it's essential to future-proof your business. Reacting after a problem happens isn’t good enough, you need to take preventative measures to give your company the best chance of riding out any upcoming storms.
And it's not just pandemics you have to contend with, the marketplace is changing just as rapidly as the climate. New technologies are springing up all the time (ChatGPT anyone?) and you don’t wanna be late to the party. 👀
So, what can you do to keep your business afloat and not just survive, but thrive, in an uncertain world?
Well, The Alliance was founded in the Fall of 2019, and we managed to come out the other side of the pandemic even stronger and more successful than we went in. So, here are our five top tips for getting through a global crisis… 🌍
How to ensure your company survives a global crisis
- Look backward
It might sound counterintuitive, but the old adage ‘history repeats itself’ is pretty accurate. While they might feel especially pronounced right now, a lot of the challenges we’re facing as an industry have happened before.
First off, identify the problems you could potentially face in the next one, five, or 10 years. Then track down case studies of companies comparable to yours and see how they’ve handled similar problems. YouTube is rife with videos analyzing how companies survived and thrived or crashed and burned in response to things like Covid-19, the 2008 economic crisis, or the 1987 Stock Market crash.
By reviewing what’s gone well, and what’s been a spectacular failure in the past, you can start to lay down plans for the future. And start building contingency plans for how your business would handle problem X or Y. So if a problem arises, you don’t have to scramble to find a solution, you’ve already thought it through and come up with a strategy.
2. Be agile in your work processes
It’s really easy for companies to get stuck in their ways. ‘This is the way we’ve always done things, so this is how we’re going to keep doing them’. In a market (and world) that’s constantly evolving, clinging to tradition simply won’t work.
You have to be open to new ways of working and willing to respond to changes rather than just persisting with failing tactics in the hopes they’ll eventually pay off.
It's important to listen to your employees in these situations. If they’re telling you they’ve been trying one strategy for a year and they've seen no progress, it’s time to review your processes. They’re also the ones on the frontline of your business, so they’ll probably be the first to notice signs that a shift in the market is coming.
As well as paying attention to your employees, pay attention to what’s going on around you. When new technologies spring up or big shifts happen, don’t stick your head in the sand and insist it's ‘just a fad’ or ‘it’ll pass’. When these things happen, learn about them and work out how to make them a strength rather than a weakness.
For example, at The Alliance, we now have a ChatGPT strategy to ensure our content can cut through the noise of AI and still find our audience. Instead of clinging to our old way of working, we pivoted so we could get ahead of ChatGPT rather than waiting around for it to eat into our organic traffic.
3. Maximize the value you offer
At The Alliance, we don’t just have one revenue stream or one source of value for our customers and target audience. Our content is varied, from blog posts and podcasts to YouTube videos and reports, we don’t limit ourselves to any one medium. Our events are also varied as we offer both in-person and online events. Without giving away trade secrets, we do our best to deliver value, but also to deliver it via the channels most convenient for our audiences.
That means if we fall short of a target in one area one week, we’ll make it up somewhere else. Put simply, we haven’t put all our eggs in one basket. So if another pandemic happened, we’d really miss our in-person events, but we have options.
(Btw, you should check out the Go-to-Market Festival happening this summer. 👇)
If you can’t diversify within your business, you can build out a ‘partnership’ or ‘ecosystem’ Go-to-Market strategy to add value to your offering. This will allow you to capture a larger target audience and ensure you have options if the worst happens.
4. Develop good relationships with your customers
Having good relationships with your customers is one of the best ways to protect your company against the future. It has three main benefits:
- Listening to your customers can help you predict future trends and get ahead of them.
- A strong customer feedback loop allows you to improve your products and be at the top of your game.
- If your customers are loyal advocates of your brand they’ll stand by you when times are tough.
Let’s break each of those down a bit. Your customers aren’t just looking at your company. They’re looking at your competitors and they’re looking at the overall market. So they know what they want out of a product and what the industry benchmark is. Listening to customers and collecting their feedback gives you a competitive edge and helps you predict upcoming challenges.
As for customer loyalty, this will in part come from listening to your customers and taking actions that demonstrate you’ve listened. Customers will respect you more if they can see you acting on their feedback. The best things you can do to make customers advocates of your brand include practicing authenticity, acknowledging and resolving customer pain points, and delivering as much value to your customers as you can.
If you do this, customers will commit to your brand and be motivated to support you throughout tumultuous periods.
5. Be frugal
When times are good, don’t overspend on the assumption times will always be good. You shouldn’t spend money on your projections for the future, stay within your means. If you overextend yourself and the market turns suddenly, it’ll cut you out below the knees.
And this applies to resources and staff as well as the budget. If you’re a scale-up company and growing fast you might be tempted to bring a lot more staff in. Make sure you’re not hiring people just for the sake of it. Only hire staff you actually need. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you hire a huge number of employees only to have to make them all redundant six months later.
Plus, recruitment is an expensive and time-consuming process. So it's not just about hiring the right number of employees, it's about keeping the ones you have. If your company has a high staff turnover rate you’re going to be expending resources you don’t have regularly to replace the people that are leaving. Make sure you’re investing time and energy into a good workplace culture so that the employees you have want to stay. That way you can save money on recruitment and your staff are more likely to stick around when times get tricky, rather than jumping ship. Your employees are your most important asset, so if you’re going to invest somewhere you should start with them.
If you want to futureproof your company against the uncertain and volatile times ahead:
- Learn from the past.
- Be agile in your processes.
- Maximize the value you offer customers.
- Develop good relationships with your customers.
- Be frugal in all areas of your business.