How to Run a Successful Business in Uncertain Times

Business UncertaintyThis year has introduced businesses small and large to unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Even being intimately familiar with the adage in business, “the only constant is change,” very few companies were prepared for the changes that 2020 has brought us so far. These changes are still taking place and will likely continue for some time to come.

So, how does a business stay afloat, even grow when so much uncertainty abounds? In this two-part series, we hope to be able to answer that question and give you some tangible recommendations as to how you can make your business more “uncertainty-proof.”

Strategic adaptability is a term that is bandied about a lot but is much more critical now than ever before. Simply put, strategic adaptability refers to having the infrastructure in place for your business that allows it to evolve when necessary. You’re probably already doing this on some level, in looking at customer preference changes or for sudden changes in the cost of goods and services.

RELATED ARTICLE: Protecting Your Business from Disaster

The original idea behind strategic adaptability is to make your business as adaptable as possible. While it may seem impossible to plan strategically for an infinite number of outcomes, there are some basic things that almost any business can do to increase its adaptability and afford itself some protection from so much uncertainty.

  1. Digitize, Digitize, Digitize

If you have been putting off your business’s entry into the digital era, now is absolutely the time to stop procrastinating. The more of your infrastructure that is digitized, the more easily tasks can be handed off, done remotely, altered, and more efficiently coordinated. Recent research indicates that this sort of adaptability for businesses is precisely the ingredient needed to avoid disruption in providing goods and services.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler itself is actually a good example of a business that has successfully transitioned to a mainly digital infrastructure. Maybe the changes our firm made will help your business too.

When the firm moved its Maumee headquarters to a new building last fall, leadership took the opportunity to embrace some additional digital platforms, including Microsoft Teams, which allows virtual meetings and all phone calls to happen through the computer desktop, no handset necessary. The firm had also transitioned earlier to some cloud-based solutions in a number of other areas of client service prior to the pandemic. For example, secure document storage.

“I feel we’re very lucky,” says GJM managing partner Kevin Gilmore. “When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we had made some smart decisions and had the digital infrastructure we needed in place. Our team was able to seamlessly transition to remote work without missing a beat. Had we not made those infrastructure changes, I imagine we would have had much more difficulty transitioning to a remote workforce.”

The manufacturing sector is certainly proof of the power of adaptability during the pandemic. Many car companies and other manufacturers quickly retooled to start producing ventilator components, face masks, face shields and other PPE to meet the needs of overwhelmed hospitals and other healthcare providers.

  1. Build Adaptability into Day-to-Day Management and Labor Practices

What does it look like, on the ground, for a business to build adaptability in to the day-to-day?  

For one, it requires management to take an active role in recognizing the uncertainty and establishing a resilient team to work with; it may also be the time to evaluate which of the old ways aren’t working for a business in the current climate. Focusing on practical solutions and priorities is also key to building this adaptability into daily operations. It’s useful to start with what outcomes you desire and work back from there, adapting the infrastructure as needed to achieve those outcomes. Encouraging collaboration and adaptability in your workforce is another quality shared by companies that are faring well in the current climate. While this may involve some training, these skills are more important now than ever.

Part two of this series will address some of the ways that organizations can help their workforces build the vital skill of adaptability.

Your business can access the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on industry in the GJM COVID-19 Resource Center.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

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