Understanding business agility as an entrepreneur
Friday, May 28, 2021
Staying afloat in the face of any crisis can be difficult. But as the most recent economic downturn proved, the state of your business and industry can change at any second. Developing the ability to pivot and stay agile can be your biggest asset as an entrepreneur.
When things go wrong, business plans and even crisis plans can only take you so far. It’s impossible to predict the hazards you may face (who could have imagined a global pandemic in 2020?), so the safeguards you create are merely that. Your business may be protected from the initial blow, but on the tough journey back to normal operations and growth, an agile mindset is invaluable.
We’ll dive deeper into the benefits of business agility for entrepreneurs, then offer some tips on how to increase your agility over time.
Why Business Agility Matters
If you’ve ever played a team sport, you know that agility matters. You always need to be conscious of where the ball and each player are, so you can move efficiently and accurately. Scores and passes can happen at any moment, and if you’re not ready to defend, you could put your team in a tight spot.
Agile methodology looks at business from a similar perspective. It treats change as inevitable and plans as flexible. Business ideas are constantly tested and iterated upon before release — and after release, each product or service is expected to grow outdated. At that point, agile business leaders retire the old idea and collaborate with team members and stakeholders on brand new ones. You’re constantly thinking on your feet.
Rather than make your business dependent on things going smoothly, Agile values collaboration, reflection, and adaptivity. This means you’ll notice changes in the market faster and adapt faster to them, keeping your revenue from sinking.
Harnessing Data to Stay Agile
Business agility is about making quick decisions, but you need to do so wisely. Real-time data — ranging from social media metrics to website analytics — is now available to help you make strategic and proactive decisions about your business.
So, what data should your business focus on? It depends on your goals. With your business goals in mind, select the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can tell you if you’re on the right track or lagging. For example, if your goal is to increase e-commerce sales, two KPIs you might track are your website clicks and abandoned cart rate. Having three KPIs per business goal is a good rule of thumb.
When you start tracking your data, you can accurately assess your business performance and know exactly when you need to pivot and how.
Focusing on Your Consumer
The rapidly changing global business landscape is producing more competition than ever. To focus on transformation, companies must strive to offer more value to customers. Sellers now have the power of choice, and they’ll only choose you if you can continuously provide the best deal over time.
Providing the best deal doesn’t necessarily mean offering sales on top of sales. You can also offer value by:
- Listening to reviews to improve your product or service quality
- Focusing on customer service to create a standout experience
- Rewarding returning customers with a loyalty program
- Posting educational posts relating to your industry
- Offering more convenient ways for clients to shop with or contact you
Listening to reviews and social media comments, proactively sending out surveys, and simply talking to customers are huge for staying agile. These offer rich, qualitative data. You’ll be able to learn when your customers’ priorities change to understand what you need to do to continue providing the value they expect.
Empowering Yourself with Continuing Education
Want to buff up your business agility? Staying up to date with modern entrepreneurial practices can help. Just as the business landscape is constantly changing, strategies and methodologies can, too.
Regularly taking courses, webinars, and conferences can help you boost your business knowledge and understand what other business owners are doing successfully. You can use your learnings to help your own company adapt to changing times — perhaps even networking with other business owners along the way.
If you want to maximize your business prowess, you can even consider returning to school for your Master of Business Administration. An MBA can help you maximize your career stability, while offering the core knowledge you need to adapt, including financial literacy and efficient operations practices. You’ll be able to lead your team with ease through any crisis.
Be Willing to Change
Change is inevitable. The most successful business leaders are the ones who lean into it, rather than resisting it. When you change with your industry and your customers, you can continue satisfying your stakeholders, while maximizing your returns. Staying agile can provide the best security possible when unexpected events come your way.
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