The concept of innovation is critical to any organization. Some business leaders will fall into the habitual pattern of doing things the same old way. And not without reason: if the status quo has worked well for a long time, there is fear of disrupting a pattern of “success.” But right now, change is vital amid COVID-19 disruptions and restrictions.
Several different types of business — restaurants, retail stores, theaters — are now opening at limited capacity with social distancing and mask-wearing protocols in place — their very survival is in question! Over the course of this pandemic, Sponsel CPA Group has discussed internally what makes sense for our own business. Since we are a business more dependent on communication than the delivery of a product or service in a physical setting, we decided to operate more via email, teleconference, video conference and other online platforms in lieu of face-to-face meetings, thus driving the remote workplace as an effective tool.
Business owners shouldn’t think of these changes as disruptions — adapting is simply part of running a business. A prudent leader must be intentional in driving new ways of thinking into their organization. You must create a philosophy and corporate culture of continuous innovation. That mindset needs to be a component of everything you do. “Change” is the only constant in your strive to be superior to your competition.
Now is the time to get creative and innovate the way you interact with customers and vendors. Just as an example, a recent article on a local family business focused on Sahm’s family of restaurants, which are turning into marketplaces and allowing customers to order groceries in addition to enjoying hot meals inside.
Examine your internal processes during this time and ask yourself if they are up to speed. Look at what others in your industry are doing, especially those who have recently adopted new methodologies. Are they working? Can they be improved upon? In March of 2020, we were forced to “shelter in place.” Many businesses changed their working platforms within 48 hours — those processes sans COVID-19 restrictions would have taken 24 months to implement in a “past normal environment.” Maybe that experience showed you what is really possible!
Talk to your customers and vendors, and ask for their advice. See what their needs are, and task your team with coming up with better ways to satisfy them. For example, in the accounting/bookkeeping world, it was once a universally accepted practice to make a daily run to deliver deposits to the bank. Now, that’s virtually all handled with online tools. And that came to be because some people thought about ways to make the process faster, simpler and more reliable. Improved productivity!
If you’re a business owner or manager, thinking innovatively means being responsive to what the market demands. Now more than ever, you should want your company to be seen as creative and dynamic. When your organization is viewed as being proactive in adopting new ways of doing business, it’s easier to maintain and attract customers, especially during a time of crisis. Utilize your “lessons learned” to facilitate meaningful innovation within your business! You can then share those benefits with your business stakeholders, customers and vendors.