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The Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Agility
  • 14 September 2017
  • Eric Michaels

The Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Agility

In business, oftentimes your best defense is to have a good backup plan. For every move you make, you should try to see the big picture and imagine a way out if things go wrong – so that you can mitigate the impact of even minor mistakes. Want some tips and tricks on staying agile in order to keep your company running smoothly? Check out this guide to business agility.

Confront the risks

Oftentimes, the most exciting business moves come with the highest risks. The sooner you confront these risks, the better off you and your business will be. This process involves calculating not just your potential growth, but how much you stand to lose. Remember to consider the ripple effects as well. If a new venture were to put your existing revenue stream in jeopardy, you may have to cut some valuable members of your team. While this isn’t always a fun exercise, imagining the worst-case scenario for every move can help you develop the necessary plan of action.

Demand honesty from your partners and employees

Maintaining complete transparency is often harder than it sounds. While keeping your employees in the loop on important matters can help you create an atmosphere of trust, it is also important to consider the adverse effects. When you shed light on a major hurdle the company is facing, this could serve to create a sense of unease in the office. That feeling, in turn, could affect productivity, potentially slowing things down when you need everyone operating at full strength. One idea is to engage your employees in brainstorming alternatives and solutions, helping them to feel valued within your organization.

Transparency plays a vital role in your team's ability to foresee potential problems. As such, you should strive to communicate risks in a manner that will encourage your staff, rather than alarm them.

Find your lieutenant

As your small business grows, you have to learn how to delegate. Your time is often better spent focusing on major initiatives and exploring new opportunities—as opposed to worrying about the day-to-day tasks that someone else can easily handle.

In the growth stage, it is crucial that you find a "lieutenant" you can trust. Your second-in-command should serve as a valuable resource for you and a leader for the rest of your team. He or she should be in charge of making sure that operations run smoothly.

Expand with caution

Sometimes, an ambitious business move can be a company's downfall. Before expanding, it is crucial that you have a solid business plan in place. If and when you decide it’s time to grow, your business as a whole will change in ways you may not have originally expected. An expansion can take up large chunks of your resources, so you want to make sure you’re strategic before taking action. Ask yourself: If this expansion fails, how will I respond to keep my business afloat?

Consider hiring temporary employees

As your business expands, you will likely need to recruit and hire new employees. This can be a big commitment in terms of time, money, and resources. Instead of creating a slew of new full-time positions, you may want to start by hiring a few temporary or part-time workers. While this may be a turn-off for a few candidates, it will help you retain much-needed agility before you make a long-term commitment. Once you have a better understanding of your business needs and each individual's capabilities, you can offer certain employees full-time positions.

In many ways, business agility is key to your overall success. Are you and your team members able to respond to any and all hurdles that may stand in your way—without losing momentum?

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