Business Owners Challenge: Embracing Change in the Face of Uncertainty

Posted by Employer Flexible on February 18, 2022
Employer Flexible

Has there ever been a harder time for business owners to make decisions than right now?

That can certainly be the perception from Wall Street to Main Street with a confluence of factors leading to decision paralysis including:

“2022 is shaping up to be one of the hardest years ever to run a company – even harder than 2020, when the pandemic first hit, corporate leaders and analysts tell us,” wrote Emily Peck and Erica Pandey, this month, in Axios.

Of course, going through tough times is part and parcel of doing business.

“There are two types of business--those that have had tough times and those that are going to have tough times,” business author Andrew Griffiths wrote in Inc.

Doing Business in 2022: The Challenges are Real

Most business owners understand that “tough times make tough companies” but the challenges in 2022 are certainly real.

Two years into the pandemic and there is still uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates.

“There’s confusion,” Jefferey Zuckerman, CEO of Main St. Events which organizes trade shows, told Axios.

On top of the pandemic, supply chain woes and rising inflation, have created a treacherous business environment.

“In my 24 years in the business I’ve never seen anything like it, not even close. Across the board we are face with crazy [price] increases,” Heineken CEO Dolf van den Brink told the Financial Times.

American Businesses Have Found Uncertain Times Before

American businesses have seen tough, troubled, and uncertain times before from civil wars, world wars, depressions, and recessions.

“A thought for my fellow CEOs: Of course, the immediate future is uncertain; America has faced the unknown since 1776. It’s just that sometimes people focus on the myriad of uncertainties that always exist while at other times they ignore them (usually because the recent past has been uneventful),” wrote Warren Buffett in 2013.

Buffett’s words are worth remembering today as industries face times that can feel unprecedented.

“Many industries throughout our history have faced tough times. Think of small mom-and-pop shops struggling to compete in the wake of Walmart. Think of the oil and gas industry facing constant regulatory hurdles. In the spring of 2020, crude oil dipped below $0 per barrel. Dairy farmers struggle to stay afloat and compete with large mega-dairies. No industry is immune to tough times. The only way to inoculate yourself is to learn, adapt, and grow through the tough time,” wrote Paul Reilly in Hardwood Floors magazine last year.

Why the Status Quo is Your Enemy in Uncertain Times

Some business owners may believe in the face of current uncertainty that the status quo may be the “safer route” but this path is rarely proven successful.

Griffiths, in fact, argues that those who do nothing will make matters only worse.

“Sometimes we can be a little like a deer in the headlights, not quite believing what is going on, frozen on the spot. The problem is that if we don't leap into action, things will always get worse and they will get worse quickly,” writes Griffiths.

Considering that the uncertainty facing businesses today are not isolated to your specific business but spread across your entire industry, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the uncertainty if you are willing to embrace change.

Griffiths recommends several key things to do in order to not only survive but to thrive in 2022:

  • Facts Not Fiction: It is important for business owners to calmly gather all the facts of their current situation before acting. Decisions cannot be based on rumors, innuendo and speculation but need to be grounded in impeachable information. Says Griffiths: “In the middle of a tough time it is really easy to start freaking out based on "what could be" as opposed to what actually is.”
  • Rethink Your Business: When things are going well, businesses rarely look in the mirror, but hard times can be a great opportunity to rethink your business and make hard decisions. Now may be the time to implement changes you have been holding off on.
  • Ramp Up Your Business: Now is the time to spend the time and resources to acquire new clients and new business. Says Griffiths: “As hard as it may be, when times are tough, you have to ramp up your business development and push through the hard times.”
  • Try Something New: Use this time to get out of your business comfort zone and try something new. Seek out advice from others. Professional employer organizations (PEOs), for example, can offer expertise in tough times that can help small-to-medium size businesses excel.
  • Invest In Your Success: Now is the time to invest in new technology, training for your employees, update your website, upgrade your HR, retool your marketing, and put a shine to anything else that can give your business a comparative advantage.

“The level of competition in the business world is stiff, to say the least. This dynamic, constantly changing environment will always favor companies who’ll do what it takes to remain competitive, relevant, and fresh in the eyes of their target markets,” writes Kelly Lowe for ZenBusiness. “You can help to ensure the survival of your enterprise by adopting new technology, providing sufficient training for your staff, and being willing to think out of the box when new challenges raise their heads.”

Contact Employer Flexible today to find out how your company can embrace change and thrive in these uncertain times.

Topics: small business, COVID-19, Leadership