COVID-19 exposes weak business systems: have you been affected?

Fa calendar 16 grey October 8, 2020   
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The COVID-19 pandemic has done more than disrupt lifestyles. It has cast light and laid bare operational insufficiencies that have been hidden or frequently ignored by business owners.

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Photo credit: Tima

Since time immemorial, human suffering has been christened as an inevitable part of existence. In such cases, many people have by default turned to spiritual teachings, literature, and their resilient hearts to spread hope. In spite of the psychological, mental, and emotional benefits reaped from such undertakings, the ongoing health catastrophe has gone for far extent to show that turning to the old ways would be a futile chase. Although necessary, the uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 has starkly shown that the chances of feeling hopeful when businesses are crumbling are slim to none. Other times, spreading hope may seem insulting to the entrepreneurs who are desperately clinging on their businesses while seeking possible ways of shielding them from destruction and extinction.

From the statistics, the pandemic has overlooked geographical boundaries and other differentiating factors that had previously been intentionally and unintentionally imposed in the society. In consequence, new survival techniques are being sort by people from all social classes. This compilation examines economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. To adequately emphasize on the need for immediate change and equip business owners with possible solutions, this brief covers the topic of the fragility of business systems from the basics of what it is and its role to the complexities of forming and/or reinforcing and assessing its impact.

Progression and market dominance have topped the wish lists of many, if not all, businesses for years. However, few enterprises are able to claim their space in the market and strongly guard it with continuous and timely supply of superior products and services. Presently, this shortcoming has been associated with the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has done more than disrupt lifestyles. It has cast light and laid bare operational insufficiencies that have been hidden or frequently ignored by business owners. Of most importance is not how severely the entrepreneurs have been struck by, either the facts of the haphazardness of their operations or the pre-existing loopholes in their structures. Rather, it is what these economy drivers can do to redeem their businesses, adapt to the changing economic climates, and cushion themselves from such and/or more severe disruptions in future. As it stands, the most probable solution seems to be examining the existing structures for flaws and eliminating, upgrading the systems constantly to lower the tally of negative outcomes and making the ventures proof to economic instability.

What is a business system?

It is a set of interrelated fields in a business that work together to ensure coordination of activities and a seamless flow of operations. Like a recipe, the ingredients and steps involved should fit perfectly into each other to achieve a predetermined result. The activities include, but are not limited to, marketing, sales, training, and accounting.

The primary objective of a business system is to define a specific way of tackling a specific problem to achieve specific results. The strength of a business structure lies in its specificity of availing solutions for a need and the commitment of business owners in overseeing the fruition of the plans. This calls for all business owners to clearly define the main objectives of an enterprise and craft ways of attaining the goal at the intended or higher degree. When overlooked, however, a business risks performing poorly and in severe cases, losing its grip in the market.

Who needs a business system?

Every business. The dream of every entrepreneur is to provide solutions for an infinite duration. Sadly, as the US Bank reported, approximately 70% of enterprises do not live long enough to fulfil the wishes of entrepreneurs. And their collapse has been attributed to failure to recognize or ignorance to flaws in the systems.

As a business owner, you can avoid joining the statistics by religiously following that the adoption of a business system is not based on the type, location, scope, or the size of a business but on the need to differentiate, provide solutions and grow in all dimensions.

Knowing when you need to reinforce a business system

Although the COVID-19 global health crisis has been a major cause of economic turmoil, the impact of weak systems on the collapse of enterprises cannot be discredited. While it may be hard to delineate weak structures from the sturdy in their wholesome nature, Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) such as poor system performance, decline in income, high employee turnover, service complaints, compliance challenges, and a decrease in customer retention are excellent indicators.

The emergence of any, some, or all of these issues is a call to seek alternative systems or upgrade. When the issues are extensively examined and their respective solutions sought and implemented, failing businesses are able to withstand the sway of any economic climate.

Components of a healthy business structure

A system is the foundation of a business. When neatly laid out, you can count on it to easily distance yourself from the masses, operate efficiently, and provide better products and services than your rivals. If you already have a system in place that has been not yielding the best results, the following list will help you to diagnose.

A healthy business system should:

  1. Have a single purpose: why are you in the business? This seemingly easy and obvious question has posed as a challenge to many entrepreneurs. It is drawn from the globally coined phrase that “if you can’t explain it to a 6-year old, you don’t understand it”. It acts as a call to entrepreneurs to critically think about the gap they are filling in the market and devise a system that strictly follows the line. A single-purpose system is how consumers will associate your enterprise with a certain way of providing value.

  2. Solve the business need and achieve the goals: it is not enough for a business to have a system or solve the needs. It should also achieve acquire a sizable market share. Otherwise, a business that merely solves market needs but never amasses profits will soon be replaced by its rivals. When designing the system, it is wise to keep the customer in mind to align every process with the needs and match the cost of products and/or services with the value.

  3. They are cost-effective: running a business in its entirety is a hard chore; this is why systems are necessary for simplifying the process. A structure help the entrepreneur know how to delegate tasks, allocate resources, and know when to engage in a particular activity. With a cost-effective system, you can attend to all activities without worry, compete profitably and give customers quality products and services.

  4. Self-relying: A healthy system should function with little or no input from the owner. This can either be achieved through automation or adequate understanding amongst the employees on what ought to be done at different times hence performing with little or no supervision.

  5. Reproducible: a system that can be easily duplicated and yield the desired results when transferred or expanded to new regions is deemed healthy.

  6. Productivity: the productivity of an enterprise is judged based on what it is able to produce after a particular amount of input. When the output is less than the input, the system is flawed and poses more as a burden than a solution. A healthy system enhances productivity by: reducing physical input, improving the quality of products or services, executing tasks quickly and using few resources. In a nutshell, a healthy system should have a visible impact in the commerce.

  7. Efficiency: a healthy system makes the best use of time, energy, and resources.  

Drafting a business system

As a business owner, your goal for drafting a system may stem from the low results acquired over time, the need to upgrade to avoid disruptions and financial instability, or to outsmart competitors. Regardless of the reason, the system should be unique as to showcase your problem-solving approach and help consumers single you out from competitors. Although copying enterprise operational processes is risky, in some cases, discoveries in psychology show that imitating a rewarding behaviour and tailoring it to suit your needs may be profitable.

First, define the desired result. This should be short and simple. Identify the activities that will help or are helping you to achieve the goal, whether they are or will be done regularly or occasionally. Dissect each activity further to all the processes, personnel, tools, and strategies needed to oversee tasks to their completion.

The next step is the most crucial since it requires introspection and brainstorming. By closely examining each breakdown of an activity, look for alternative ways of delivering more value without straining the business either financially or physically while keeping the main objective in mind. Be on the lookout of personnel, tools, strategies, and processes that can be eliminated, replaced, automated, delegated, consolidated, or deferred.

Depending on the primary objective, you may come up with a number of ways of bettering your system. You can either consider one or more strategies at a time when implementing to see the overall impact. Before implementing, consider the input, the risks that may be associated with the engagements, and parameters for measuring the impact.

Assessing the impact of a business system

Depending on the strategies implemented, the process can either harm a business or make it profitable, which is why regular assessment is essential. Business owners who find the assessment process too alien or laborious should seek the professional input of business analysts. The findings of the expenses, revenue, profit margins, sales conversions, employee turnover, satisfaction levels, and other relevant parameters will shed light on the direction that your venture is heading.

If veering off the course, you should embrace the challenge and flex to seek alternatives or refine the strategies further. It is, however, worth noting that lack of desired results after the first implementation attempt is not an absolute for a strategy’s weakness. It may be a call for aligning the approach well to match with the market needs and end results.

Upgrading in a business to identify the most profitable structure is a never-ending process because better products and services are being invented and disbursed in the market at a high rate. For this reason, it may take a few attempts of implementing and assessing to identify the best structure. Once identified, the entrepreneur is once more tasked with the duty of seeking advanced ways of working.

Conclusion

The economic downturn posed by COVID-19 is ruthless. It has portrayed two opposing sides. On one hand, it has severed the weak and those who are reluctant to change and on the other granted the strong and quick-to-adapt a narrow escape to survival and revision of their working mechanisms.

After witnessing how quickly businesses are being ripped off the marketplace due to weak structures, your leading goal should be shielding your venture from a possible crumble. While it may be difficult to accurately declare that a certain business system will withstand further disturbances caused by COVID-19, strategic adaptability and resilience are viable solutions for guarding space in the market and remaining competitive in any economic climate.

 

About the author.

Catherine Wanjiru is a writer, author of Layers of a Human and a personal development enthusiast.

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