Five ways to keep your business flexible

Joel Svensson

The economic upheavals of the last decade have shown us the value of retaining a limber business model, linking innovation to survival more closely than ever. But innovation isn’t just about inventing the next iPhone killer; at its core, it’s about retaining the ability to pursue new ideas as they come. ShortPress presents five ways to imbue your business with yoga-like poise.

Stay informed

Knowing the pressures of your external environment is essential to all businesses. Even goliaths are subject to the tides of market forces, and can be just as easily swept away. Look at REDgroup Retail – once owner of mighty retail chain Borders, they failed to see e-publishing for the danger it really was, and were consequently toppled. They have since become an infamous lesson in the importance of knowing where you stand.

Keeping abreast of developments in neighbouring industries as well as your own will help you anticipate pressure and react to it appropriately.

Keeping abreast of developments in neighbouring industries as well as your own will help you anticipate pressure and react to it appropriately.

Embrace the mobile office

Being able to work from anywhere at any time can greatly speed up your reaction time. Being able to electronically retrieve a document from home while on the phone with a client is more than simply convenient. Not only is this more flexible for you personally, but using online systems can also allow for tighter integration, less paperwork and improved communication.

Limit fixed costs

The more you tie up your finances in overheads, the more difficult it will be to manage income peaks and troughs. Having too many fixed obligations can lead to serious cash flow problems, hamstringing your business’ capacity for pursuing opportunities.

Keep emergency funds

In addition to limiting costs, it’s also important to have a couple of contingency plans for rough patches. If your business experiences a dry patch, if a piece of equipment breaks down or some other unforeseen expense decides to rear its head, being able to fund it without breaking the bank could be a lifesaver.

The more you tie up your finances in overheads, the more difficult it will be to manage income peaks and troughs.

Make incremental course corrections

Staying flexible rarely involves doing a complete one-eighty, but is rather about making iterative adjustments. Tweaking your product or processes just a little, while being responsive to client sentiment, can make a huge difference.

Apple, for instance, made one little design decision that has since come to define their brand – to pursue simplicity over granular control. That one aesthetic adjustment differentiated Apple from Microsoft just enough to make them look like a sexier, friendlier alternative.

Conventional knowledge tells us that big risk equals big rewards – but it really is the little things that make the difference.

Joel Svensson

Joel Svensson is a Melbourne-based freelance writer specialising in politics and business.

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