One of my former bosses would preach this on a regular basis, “Don’t waste a crisis!” It’s a mantra at SMB Compass we’ve consistently thought about and try to apply whenever possible.
A large group of small businesses right now are dealing with different negatively impacting factors. What’s a similar and congruent fact for most of these businesses is they’re in an unprecedented pause.
This pause has numerous adverse effects that have been written about non-stop since the initial disruption. What’s been talked about less are the opportunities to breed new ideas and innovation into businesses.
What better time to discuss changes and actually implement changes when, as a business owner, you can now find the time to think and strategize unlike at any other point?
Innovation is a term that often is directly tied to large, revolutionary improvements that change our everyday lives. While all businesses strive to be innovative, the expectation that as an entrepreneur you’re going to change the world with an idea may not be realistic nor feasible.
What is feasible is to have innovation within your company. In the business world there’s expectations to create the next great thing, but how about focusing on creating the next great small business?
Sometimes the best improvements aren’t made at light speeds, but in incremental and consistent improvements. Businesses in current times can succeed (yes, even in these times), by applying the Japanese term Kaizen, which means constant improvement.
In our current climate, we have a large group of businesses sitting still, and others running at 50% or less of their normal capacity. Within this period of stillness and unproductivity, there’s opportunity, as there usually is in any crisis.
It’s up business owners and decision makers to shut out the noise and disruption and focus on key aspects of their business for when times do turn around and production starts to normalize once again.
We as a firm have used the Kaizen mentality in the past, and have now applied it further, given some of the unforeseen downtime in our business. From our point of view, it’ll be months before we expect normalcy in our business. What we’ve decided to do about it is to find places where we could improve our already established business.
As an example, the asset-based lending side of the business is going through a revamped training process. Our team is furthering training in underwriting, processing, and overall SMB crucial skills. We’ve also focused on additional cross-training of products that would normally not be possible under normal times.
The reasons we’ve chosen these specific improvements is that they take up time – considerable amounts of it. While most business owners are generally conscious that developing and keeping talent is one of the most challenging parts of a business, it’s often an impossible task with the normal workloads.
Focusing on training and further developing our talent is what we believe will breed further innovation in our business. From our point of view, allowing our employees to further develop and grow during a time our business is growing at a slower rate is actually a blessing in disguise. By allowing this development, we’re expecting to accelerate some of our groups, and in the long run, the size and strength of our business.
The long-term health of any business is tied directly to the innovation happening internally. As a business owner or key decision maker, it’s important to use this unforeseen opportunity to find ways to create internal innovation.