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Business Continuity and the art of pivoting

If you aren’t already, there has never been a more appropriate time to think about Business Continuity!

Can you think of any business that hasn’t been affected in one way or another by the current virus crisis?

The outbreak of Covid-19 has led to so many businesses closing their doors, potentially for good, as they suffer the downturn in trade and therefore profit. For those businesses that rely solely on face-to-face operations, restaurants and events management businesses, for example, times are truly tough.

That being said, there are still a great number of businesses operating profitably – even flourishing. So what makes them different?

They’re either in a generally unaffected industry, like web development, they’ve been flexible enough to pivot when needed, or they have had the foresight to envisage such unforeseen circumstances. And it’s these last two points I want to talk about here. 

“Plan for the worst. Hope for the best”. This isn’t just hyperbole; you actually have to plan for the worst. But how do you plan for something you’d never have imagined? Look around you right now. Who would have guessed we’d be in the middle of a global pandemic!

It’s easy enough to plan for events that we can predict. The building could burn down, the broadband connection could go down, your client could go under. But how do you plan for business continuity in scenarios you can’t predict?

You can’t see your own blindspots, so the key is in remaining flexible enough to adapt when the proverbial does hit the fan.

So what do we mean by business continuity?

It’s no more complicated than it sounds. Business Continuity planning is essentially deciding and organising how you’ll continue to make money when X, Y & Z happen.  

Clearly there are a number of considerations and questions you need to ask yourself which will depend on what type of business you’re running. 

When developing my Business Continuity Plan (BCP), I started off by brainstorming key areas which would affect my business the most. 

  • What if one of my team becomes ill and can’t work? 
  • What if one of our hosting providers suffers a major outage?
  • What if one or more of our clients were to go under?
  • What would happen if there was a global pandemic? (Just kidding, I never imagined this).

Asking yourself a series of ‘what if’ questions will allow you to form a plan based around your team and their responsibilities, your customers, your resources, your location, your level of flexibility and adaptability etc. What could you do to prevent said issue? What do you already have in place that could be built upon? What do you need to do immediately? What are you going to do to change your approach in order to adapt and overcome the adversity?

Adaptability and flexibility…

Over the past few weeks, businesses around the world have had to change how they serve their customers, and in some cases, that’s changed who their customers are.

This ability to pivot (a term I first came across in the bestseller The Lean Startup by Eric Ries) could be the difference between going bust and flourishing. Of course, I appreciate these are exceptional times, but the fact remains if you’re able to adapt your business to suit the current needs of the consumer, you’re onto a winner.

Fortunately for this industry (and certainly for Viaworks) at least, plenty of digital agencies who had clients with web projects on the back burner, now have those projects front and center as those clients rush to get as much of their operations online as quickly as possible.

Online businesses are thriving for obvious reasons, and businesses that have adapted their way of working to suit an online environment are reaping the rewards.

In fact, many of these businesses experiencing a rapid growth right now are those that are helping other businesses pick themselves back up. 

So what are successful agencies doing right now?

If anything, this pandemic has caused a surge in businesses wanting to take their operations online. Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for a large number of businesses, making them realise what they could be doing with an online platform. 

Online trade and growth (and survival) is now at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. 

As a digital agency, you’re spoilt for choice right now (hear me out!) – you’re in a prime position to help other businesses in their time of need. You could be the saviour, without losing out on profits.

We recently built a client website for an agency client of ours. Since it’s launch that end client has seen a 40% increase in enquiries. As well as the increased business for that small business, imagine the praise and recommendations coming the way of that agency. 

Successful agencies are visible too, showing their clients how to get more from their online operations, taking proactive steps to offer redesigns, improved functionality and generally making it easier for people to do business with them. 

They’re not sitting around bemoaning the fact this crisis has killed their business, they’re taking positive action, secure in the knowledge their services are of huge value right now. 

So, if you’re struggling as an agency, ask yourself what you could be doing to help existing clients. Can you think of opportunities they may not have considered? Think outside the box. Make yourself visible to ensure those in need come to you. And don’t lose faith.

It’s crucial to note here, most small businesses aren’t looking for charity. They’re looking for more value. You don’t need to charge less. You need to offer more. That way everyone wins!

If you would like any advice about how you can better help your clients and how we can help you be more proactive, please get in touch here or give me a call on 07804 178167.

David Orchard

David Orchard

David is the founder of Viaworks, which develops custom WordPress solutions for creative agencies. When not working on the business or helping clients, David can be found building Lego with his two young sons.

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