5 tips for developing business resilience
Wondering how you could better prepare the next time a crisis occurs? Araza founder and CEO Victoria Kluth shares some advice for creating a resilience plan to aid your business recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption for Australian organisations of all sizes. Many have been forced to change the way they operate and cut costs dramatically in order to stay afloat. Developing a business resilience strategy could make it easier for your business to navigate through and recover after a crisis. The CEO of IT consultancy Araza, Victoria Kluth, shares her top tips.
When trouble strikes, making tough decisions can mean the difference between sinking and swimming. If you don’t have an up-to-date understanding of your financial position, this can become even more challenging. Monitoring your bank balance and cash flow means you know exactly where you stand and how much you’ll need to cut back in order to pay your bills and stay afloat.
“In normal times, our cash flow is pretty steady so it wasn’t something I looked at daily, but once the COVID-19 crisis began, it sure was,” Kluth says. “Armed with that knowledge, I was able to launch an immediate review of our operations to see what we needed and what was a ‘luxury’. Being able to make those difficult calls quickly, rather than having to wait a week or two, can put you in a better position down the track.”
During times of crisis, chances are, everyone has something to contribute. That’s why asking your employees for suggestions on how to trim the tab is a smart move. Enlisting their assistance when COVID-19 struck resulted in a flood of good ideas from Araza’s 200-person strong team. They ranged from terminating the lease on the company’s Sydney premises, to cutting the stipend that covered the cost of employees taking their clients out for coffee.
“There were so many things I hadn’t thought of because employees look at the company in a different way than I do,” Kluth says. “Every little bit helps.”
Knowledge is power. During times of upheaval, keeping your ear to the ground can help navigate changing conditions and chart a safer course for your business. Business publications and podcasts, for example, are an excellent source of information and insights, particularly if you seek out a variety of commentators and perspectives.
“When COVID-19 hit I spent time every weekend listening to podcasts from my accountants, the banks, Smart Company, small business clubs, you name it…,” Kluth says. “You pick up little snippets and hints. Sometimes, you hear about things that don’t seem immediately pertinent but then you never know where the next good idea that will help your business is going to come from.”
COVID-19 has made working from home become the norm almost overnight. Businesses ill-prepared for the shift were forced to organise equipment and software for their teams and develop remote working policies on the fly. Having these systems and processes already in place can put you on the front foot in troubled times.
“This isn’t just an issue for small- and medium-sized businesses,” Kluth points out. “A lot of very large organisations have enormous back-end systems that can’t be accessed remotely, as things stand. Enabling your employees to remain productive, irrespective of where they’re located, means you can keep operating in all sorts of adverse circumstances.”
A crisis can also make it difficult or impossible to continue servicing your customers in the usual way. Being ready to deliver your goods and services via different channels means you can keep operating, with minimal disruption to your business and theirs.
Araza is able to distribute equipment and provide software updates to companies whose teams are working remotely. They also provide online training via Zoom. “It’s about partnering with your customers to ensure everyone is safe and new processes are created that enable you to meet their needs,” Kluth says.
Managing a business through a crisis is no job for the faint-hearted. When times are uncertain and there are difficult decisions to be made, it can be helpful – and comforting – to be able to connect with others who are in the same challenging position.
Being a Businesses of Tomorrow alumni, a member of the global Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), and an informal circle of other IT business owners means Kluth has no shortage of people to bounce ideas off and ask for advice and assistance. “There are a lot of people in my circle who have successful companies of a similar size to mine,” she says.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, I reached out to people and they reached out to me. It’s really good to be able to catch up and ask other business owners how they’re handling a particular issue. A pandemic was something new for everyone so no one had all the answers during COVID-19 but we all found it helpful to talk things through.”
Pandemics, natural disasters and other unexpected setbacks can test businesses and business owners to their limit. Taking steps now to make your business more resilient will see you better placed to withstand the next knock, whenever and however it occurs, and enact a business recovery plan when you’re ready.
This article is a general overview and should be used as a guide only. We recommend that you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before acting.