“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley," wrote Scottish poet Robert Burns. Even the finest, most well-thought-out plans sometimes have to be set aside for reasons outside of your control.
During times of uncertainty, one of the most important traits for any business to have is flexibility.
With a willingness to adjust plans, divert from the original strategy, and make small or large pivots, your business can be more resilient during stormy weather.
If your business is facing uncertainty and the road ahead is unclear, here's how to add more flexibility to your plans, projects, and strategy to help you get through it.
How to Make Your Business Flexible During Uncertainty
Accept what you need to postpone or change.
If the landscape your business exists in has suddenly changed, you will need to make changes inside your organization, too. That's especially the case if you need to tighten budgets and make sure it's spent in the places with the highest return.
Take a look at all of the projects in your pipeline and assess what really needs to be prioritized right now, what can be postponed, and what can be discarded.
Encourage each department in your business to ask:
- Is now the best time for the projects we are focusing on?
- Should we adjust our content and communications to deliver the most value to our audience?
- Is our budget in the right place, or do we need to change allocations?
- Would team members offer the most value working on different priorities?
- What pivots should we be making?
If your business is experiencing higher levels of churn or lower profits, you may also need to reassess some goals during times of prosperity or at least adjust expectations.
Identify where your focus is most valuable.
After you have reassessed the projects that your business is working on, it's time to look at your own to-do list.
Ask yourself: where can I add the most value with an hour, a day, a week, or a month of focus?
Even if you can't forecast the future, you can think about what's the most valuable way to spend your time right now. Make sure your agenda is aligned with the tasks that matter most instead of the busy work that's landed on your desk.
Maintain transparency with your team.
When your business or industry is going through some turbulence, it's more crucial than ever to maintain strong communication with your team.
To sustain the trust that's essential for a focused and happy team, make sure that leadership is honest and transparent about where your business stands right now, key goals for the upcoming period, and what the current challenges are.
A transparent and engaged team is essential for a resilient business that can endure times of change.
Embrace different working styles.
Building a resilient and flexible business requires a willingness to do things differently than you have done before. You may need to embrace new ways of working instead of stubbornly saying "but this is how we've always done things."
This can include adapting to different working styles, such as remote work — which might even be a necessity to a lot of businesses. To help your team adapt to remote work, think about team-wide policies you can introduce to encourage better focus, well-being, and productivity.
These can include:
- Introducing remote-friendly apps for video calls
- Adopting a company-wide communication tool such as Slack
- Scheduling remote meetings to catch up with your team and share information
- Encouraging team members to focus on their mental health and well-being
Reinforce the foundations.
If your business is less busy with new leads and projects, it's a good time to focus on strengthening the foundations so you're in the best position when things start to pick up again.
Look at the important tasks that are often overlooked, for example, improving contact management processes or introducing automated workflows to make your team more efficient.
You could also use this as a time to look at your tech stack and identify weaknesses and areas for improvement.
Some questions to help optimize your tech stack include:
- Which apps are we paying for that don't add value?
- Could certain apps be replaced by free tools?
- Do we have any overlapping tools?
- Where are there opportunities to integrate data between apps to increase productivity?