As the famous quote says, “you can either watch change happen or be part of the change”.
The true character and resilience of every entrepreneur are tested during crises. It is such crises as the one we are experiencing that separate the successful businesses and those that fail.
If you own a business, I know the biggest thoughts running in your mind are how you will pay your bills and keep your business afloat.
If you are among the lucky few that are still making some few sales here and there, the biggest question is how you will bounce back from the crisis and even grow bigger.
Well, I got you covered.
Before we dive any deeper, remember General Electric, General Motors, IBM, and Microsoft were all started during recessions. Just to name a few.
Economic crises provide the best opportunities to start or grow businesses, especially start-ups or small businesses. It creates a fairground for all businesses and therefore better opportunities for new ones to thrive.
The lack of high disposable incomes by the majority of consumers makes it possible for the businesses offering the highest value for every penny to make a name for themselves.
The Four Stages of Change
It’s crazy how things have changed so fast from the predictable promising 10 years of growing economies to ultimate global chaos in just 4-5 months. All the different industry trends that had been predicted for 2020 and coming years are now totally invalid.
Every entrepreneur and business owner is confused, nobody knows where or how to start.
So, how can you gain an edge in this chaos?
Simple, study previous economic crises.
We must become students of change if we are to thrive through this crisis.
We have to understand consumers reactions to change, government reactions, and how businesses have succeeded in previous economic crisis such as the 2008 financial crisis.
Even better, what if we can combine this knowledge with the understanding of the 4 phases through which individuals, teams, and businesses adapt when exposed to change?
This combination can enable us to shift from fearing and viewing change as an unpredictable cannibal to something we can use to make ourselves and our businesses better.
These four stages include:
- Development, and
They are further divided into 12 steps with each stage having 4 steps.
Stage 1 – Discover
Step 1: Comfort
The past 10 years had created a relatively stable and predictable business environment. Almost all businesses were operating comfortably with little change or threat of change. Many of them reduced their cash reserves which have come back to haunt them greatly. After COVID exploded and countries started lockdowns, most of the businesses quickly ran short of funds, for example, with the UK government being forced to step in and pay some of the workers.
Everyone was taken out of their comfort zones.
Step 2: Challenge
This includes the pain of reduced sales, layoffs, health uncertainties, among others. This is what led to panic buying due to a shift to survival mode.
Step 3: Resistance
At this point, organisations and individuals fail to accept the new normal and start resisting change or adopting new initiatives. This is one of the key steps that define leaders and determine the direction that a business will head to. If the leader resists that change as well and fails to promote change adoption by employees, the business eventually ends up dying. A perfect case being Nokia and Kodak.
In the case of COVID, some of the change included working from home, offering home deliveries for physical stores, and shifting to online operations. However, most businesses have been or initially had decided to close down and wait until the pandemic ends. Of course, not the best decision.
Stage 2 – Decide
Sitting back and waiting for things to get back to normal is the worst strategy you can think of following. This is where you make or break your business.
By making the right decision and developing the right strategy, you are guaranteed to surf ahead of your competitors and establish long term growth. The inverse also holds.
This is the first step of deciding phase, which entails accepting that things are never going to revert to normal; therefore, a new strategy has to be developed.
Step 2 entails sitting down with your employees and discussing a new strategy in the tiniest of details. Call them in for a full day of Zoom meeting, listen to everyone’s suggestions, and then develop a unifying bounce-back strategy that encompasses every employee’s backing and commitment.
In this case, you will have to dig deeper into your business model in terms of the products you offer; your target customers in terms of how they have been financially affected by the pandemic, how to deliver services to them, how to retain contacts with them, and how to target and win new customers.
Don’t fear to lay all the facts on the table, you have to expose and discuss every single detail else it will all be in vain.
You also need to look at other opportunities you can venture into based on the prevailing needs and challenges that communities are facing. The secret is to offer real value to people and money will start flowing in whether in crisis or not.
Once this is accomplished, the final step of this stage is planning the steps for implementing the developed bounce-back plan.
Stage 3 – Develop
This phase starts at the planning stage and requires the leaders to be fully committed and to fully express their leadership skills to their employees as change promoters. It entails creating a new organisational culture, empowering employees to not only accept but also to seek change and it flows from the leader himself/herself down to the different workgroups.
If properly done, it will change the organisation into an ignition hub for new ideas, positive internal competition between groups, job satisfaction, and eventually inherent growth that no other company can rival against. Remember, employees are the heart of every business. They determine whether and to what extent your business will grow or decline.
I know by now you may be saying this article is meant for the multinational businesses that have hundreds of employees. Absolutely not. These steps can be implemented by any business regardless of how small it is. The key factor to highlight here is change; how to plan, develop, and implement the change in order to stay ahead of the competition.
And it doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to look for multibillion change ideas for your business. You only need a slight edge to be ahead. Search for the complaints people are making in your business-related industry and solve the problem.
It’s the simple steps that end up being gigantic. Well, there would be no Walmart if Sam Walton had not purchased the first store.
Stage 4 – Deliver
This is the last phase. Once the change has been accepted, a plan developed, and all the employees made the commitment to change, the remaining step is going brakes off and getting everything out there.
Let everyone know you mean business.
If all the steps are done correctly, the developed cycle of change will be impossible to stop and the business will grow at a rate you have never imagined before.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now you know what you need to do to bounce back better than ever before.
We are in a crisis nobody can wish to ever happen again; however, why sit back and mourn when you get out of it stronger and better.
Get it done and Good Luck!