In the aftermath of the chaos of 2020, one thing has become abundantly clear: businesses must evolve in order to stay ahead. No matter whether your goal is top-line growth or not, profitability is a fundamental priority for every business owner. And the only way to stay profitable is to push your company to innovate.
Survival of the fittest may be a reality in both the animal kingdom and the business world, but staying fit as a business means adapting to constantly shifting realities. Two years ago, none of us could have imagined how radically different our concept of work would be. We never guessed that so many of our operations could shift to virtual and work from home models. Now that so many organizations have made that shift, it’s clear that there are always opportunities for CEOs and business owners to innovate and start doing things differently.
Whether or not your company’s operations are heading toward a return to “normal,” it’s vital that you continue thinking about ways to do things differently. How can you differentiate yourself from your competition? What markets can you grow into? Are there new products or services you can offer? How might you adapt what you already offer into something valuable to new customers?
Consider Your Audience
We see so many companies continuing to do the same things, day in and day out, without really stopping to ask whether it’s actually working. While email newsletters and SEO blog posts are absolute workhorses for any industry, they also probably aren’t getting you very far when it comes to reaching new audiences.
This is especially true if you haven’t switched anything up in a while. How long has it been since you updated your email template? Brand consistency is important, but so is getting your readers’ attention by giving your design a facelift. If your website or newsletter looks like it was created 10 years ago, new readers and visitors will assume it was… and they might assume that your company is 10 years behind the curve as well.
Who is the audience you want to attract? Customer retention is vital to every business, but so is reaching new customers. The reality is that if you want to reach younger audiences, you have to figure out how to make social selling work for you. Having a presence on social media really isn’t optional anymore. Like it or not, video is the new paragraph. Younger generations want more engaging content. Podcasts are on the rise. Stop and ask yourself: is there another way to reach people? With so much affordable and easy access to technology, it’s definitely worth giving it a try.
Strive for an Adaptable Business Model
The global pandemic of 2020 rocked the world, and so many businesses couldn’t survive the storm. More than 160,000 businesses shut their doors for good between April and September of 2020. While the factors leading to this many closures are myriad, what’s clear is that the only way to survive such an impossible-to-predict scenario is to set yourself up with an adaptable business model.
The the word “pivot” is becoming increasingly overused. But we do want to emphasize the importance of thinking through ways that your business can function differently. In other words, how your business might evolve. For example, one of our TAB Members runs an emergency services firm that was focused entirely on events. Pre-COVID 19, they were running strong, offering paramedic staffing for virtually every major event in the Denver metro area – football, basketball, concerts, etc. When the shutdown began, all of their revenue opportunities evaporated overnight.
How did that company survive? By adapting their business model. They didn’t just limp along and keep the company afloat until things returned to normal. Instead, they examined their mission and sought out ways to leverage their strengths. Since their mission is to make healthcare better and more accessible, they were able to use their existing staff and equipment to assist in improving access to necessary services. This started by helping with covid testing and has now moved on to covid vaccinations, taking much of the burden off of the county. While they will eventually go back to working events once those return, they’ve also branched out their services in ways they’d never previously considered.
Examine Your Existing Resources
You don’t have to wait for a huge crisis to find ways to help your business evolve. Innovation can begin by simply asking yourself if there are new or different ways to use what you already have. If you’re offering a product, for example, are there customers and markets who might benefit from what you already provide if you just package it a little bit differently? If you’re performing a service for clients and following a process, can you package that process to make it more broadly accessible?
Using technology and the advantages of the virtual environment broaden your audience exponentially. How might you take what you’ve got and turn it into recurring revenue streams? Another one of our Members realized that their core business revolved around customized software development for clients. They took an existing low-code platform and created unique solutions for a variety of industries. What they realized was that they could take some of the solutions they already had experience building, add some additional functions, and repackage that solution to make it available to a broader audience. Their fundamental business model is still in customizing solutions for their clients. However, they’ve expanded their offerings dramatically by offering these products they’ve already built.
Continue to Ask Hard Questions
No matter how long you’ve been in business, whether you’re just getting started or beginning to look at transitioning out, it pays to look ahead. Ask yourself and your team, “I’m a 5 million or 7 million company – what do I need to do to be 10 million or 15-20 million?” Whatever that answer is, it won’t be doing the same thing day after day, year after year.
In order to thrive, you’ll need to find new ways to grow and manage the business. Whatever you do, continue to ask yourself “how can we do this different/better/more efficiently – both internally and externally?” How can you leverage your existing resources to do more with less? How can you reduce costs while maintaining quality?
Not sure where to start? TAB would love to help. Joining a peer advisory board is a great way to access the experience and insights of colleagues who will push you to grow your business. Fellow Members will ask those tough questions, help you innovate and keep you accountable to achieving your goals.