Read time: 3 mins      Added: 22/01/2024

It’s hard to know what lies around the corner but there are steps you can take to make your business more resilient. That resilience can help you adapt to change, meet new challenges, and grasp new opportunities.
Recent years have created challenging business environments. Supply chain difficulties, energy price rises, and changes in inflation and interest rates are just some of the issues businesses have faced.

There are opportunities too, from digital transformation, innovation, and sustainability. Businesses that are agile and resilient are those better placed to pivot to seize these.

Looking ahead, Bank of England forecasts show softening economic growth, with forecasts that GDP will remain broadly flat for some time.

Resilience is critical but insurance firm Aviva reports that almost half (48%) of businesses have “low resilience.” However, there are steps you can take to make sure your business is in the best shape to face the future. These include:

Strengthening your finances

Take the opportunity to review your finances. Having a three month cushion for example, depending on your business, can give you the breathing space to make any changes.
Look at any areas where you can make efficiencies. How is your cash flow? Do you have any capital reserves?

Investing for change

It might seem counter-intuitive to spend when you’re aiming for resilience, but the right investment can actually boost your business growth. If there’s a clear business case for investing – to increase efficiency, for example – it can help strengthen your business.

Keeping an eye on your longer-term strategic plans means they’re less likely to be derailed by shorter-term changes to the business landscape.

Avoiding inertia

Reviewing your processes can present new perspectives and stop your business becoming stale. As Richard Branson pointed out: “Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change.”

Strategic, financial, and operational flexibility can help businesses spot the difference between an innovative opportunity and a threat, helping build resilience and adaptability.

Supporting your workforce

Businesses that prioritise training, pay and benefits, employee wellbeing, and who listen to their staff are often the most resilient.

But with figures from the Health and Safety Executive showing that 875,000 workers suffered work-related stress, anxiety or depression across 2022-23, clearly that resilience is under threat.

Supporting your employees, particularly when they may be facing their own personal challenges or difficulties, can help build a foundation of organisational resilience.

Pursuing innovation

Employees that feel supported and engaged can be a vital source of internal innovation.

They are often the ones with their ear to the ground and offer valuable insights into what’s working and what’s not. Creating an inclusive culture can make it easier for them to share those insights. It may also help them understand and buy-into any changes, making implementation easier.

Being pragmatic

Tough economic times, as we have seen, can damage business confidence.

But if you focus on worst-case scenarios or incidents of when things went wrong, you can risk missing opportunities.

A good evaluation of risks and opportunities can help build a resilient future.

Be prepared

Your business should set up a framework to help manage future shocks. You can categorise these as: financial crisis, personnel crisis, organisational crisis, technological crisis, and natural crisis.

By considering how these could affect your business, planning your response, and communicating this across the business, you can help build business resilience and confidence.

Monitor your external environment

Planning for crises that you can control and becoming familiar with the risks in your external environment, like your supply chain, is critical. While you might know your first-tier suppliers well, you might be less familiar with your second-tier suppliers.

Issues within a supply chain can damage your business resilience. Having an awareness of where issues might arise and contingency plans to limit your exposure, is a good idea.

Make the most of relationships

Businesses with strong relationships and external networks can usually spot challenges and opportunities early. This is simply because groups happen to be better than individuals at identifying events and dangers.
Business resilience depends on many factors. While some are clearly outside your control, like economic prospects or political shocks, there are others that you can determine. Analysing your customer, financial and supplier data, can help you spot any risks to your business or industry.

Collaborating with your networks and employees then reviewing the broader opportunity and threat landscape can also be useful. Using that data to plan for different scenarios can help you build a business that’s able to survive and thrive.

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