With the rapid pace of change in the consumer environment, it’s an exciting time to be in business – more ways to find and engage with customers, more avenues to understand your target audience, more capacity to respond to market needs.
But running a small business is demanding. Sometimes it’s hard enough just to look after customers and business administration, let alone assess and respond to trends.
Being agile requires the ability to take a breath, look around you and see the big picture. What’s happening in your sector and the wider community? Are your customers asking for anything new or different? What is the competition up to?
For example, when PepsiCo bought SodaStream in 2018, it was responding to changes in consumer preferences in the beverage industry. Consumers were flooding (if you’ll pardon the pun) to sparkling water, and SodaStream was responding to the trend towards zero waste; pledging to eliminate plastic by the end of 2019. In its acquisition of SodaStream, PepsiCo realigned its portfolio more with customer and community expectations, to remain relevant and profitable.
Agility is the key to business success but, to achieve it, you must have time and capacity to jump off the treadmill and invest in creative and strategic thinking.
Here are three key pieces of infrastructure to enable agility in your business:
1. Efficiency: give your business a regular service
If you want to be able to shift gears easily, your business must be a well-oiled machine. Efficient and flexible systems and processes are essential to unlock time for creative thinking and rapid response to changing trends.
By looking at internal processes, streamlining workflow, and eliminating “lag time” in the way you work, you will be ready to jump on lucrative new opportunities. This won’t just build your business and improve productivity; it will also boost staff and customer satisfaction.
2. Embrace the benefits of new technology
New technologies are not just a “nice to have” or a way to keep up with trends. There are many business technologies designed to create more agility in your business by enabling mobility, greater employee engagement, transparency and faster customer interactions. For example, Marketing Cube is a small business that helps its clients drive superior customer experience (CX) using in-the-cloud automation. The Managing Director needs to sign off on many purchases and decisions. To keep work progressing while he’s travelling for work or holidays, Marketing Cube uses eSignature technology to prepare, sign, action and manage agreements online. This cuts down on physical storage requirements, makes it more convenient for the business and its customers, lowers costs and risk of human error, minimises business disruption, and allows for management flexibility.
3. Create an agile business culture
With so much talk of technology, the pivotal role of workplace culture can be overlooked. But it’s just as important to remember that people drive your systems from the inside out. Give them the software training and support they need, encourage inter-company communication, mine their frontline knowledge for information on industry trends, and foster a positive environment where new ideas and observations are welcomed. Armed with their support and feedback, you’ll be in a strong position to act fast and grow your bottom line.
Tom Hyde, Head of Small Business – APAC, DocuSign