Adapt to thrive: what SMBs can learn from large businesses
Andrew Fairgray believes there are lessons to be learnt from New Zealand’s most successful businesses for organisations of all sizes that want to thrive within the current tumultuous landscape. The past few years have been unlike any before for business leaders. Having weathered more than two years of pandemic-related disruptions remarkably well, business leaders are […]
Andrew Fairgray believes there are lessons to be learnt from New Zealand’s most successful businesses for organisations of all sizes that want to thrive within the current tumultuous landscape.
The past few years have been unlike any before for business leaders. Having weathered more than two years of pandemic-related disruptions remarkably well, business leaders are now facing a whole new set of challenges – staff-related issues are compounding with rapidly rising costs to create a new kind of turbulence.
The latest Shaping Business Study at 2degrees paints a picture of the state of play for Kiwi businesses, and it’s a mixed bag: large businesses with more than 50 employees are largely feeling optimistic and anticipating revenue growth, while the picture for smaller employing businesses is less rosy.
Big businesses are seeing the benefits of scale, and there are lessons to be learnt from our most successful businesses for organisations of all sizes that want to thrive within this tumultuous landscape.
One of the key issues facing businesses is cost. Almost every business surveyed said their running costs have increased in the past year, and that’s consistent across all sectors and business sizes. For small businesses with up to 20 employees, rising costs were seen as their biggest issue.
You might think the solution to rising costs is more cashflow, and last year, it was. This year, though, when asked what would help businesses thrive, more businesses (30%) said better skilled staff than cashflow (29%).
The staffing shortage hits hard
Managing the impact of rising costs doesn’t just require more income, it also requires skilled people who can help a business through a challenging time.
All around us, we see the staffing shortage really bite. A lack of access to great staff is preventing too many businesses from reaching their goals. Successful businesses are attacking this issue with a willingness to adapt the way they operate. Nearly half of business leaders reported that they have adjusted their ways of working to include new work practises like hybrid and remote working.
While flexible working offers a lot, it isn’t possible for every business. Think about hospitality, a customer of ours in this sector has shared that the labour shortage could lead to business closures – a lack of staff means fewer people on the floor to serve customers, but also makes it harder to train staff when there aren’t team members to backfill that work.
The picture looks different for every company and sector, but all businesses can benefit from a willingness to adapt in their own way. Large businesses were the most likely to have adjusted their ways of working, and it’s no coincidence that those large businesses were also the most likely to feel optimistic and anticipate revenue growth.
Being willing and able to adapt the way your business operates is a good way to attract and retain great staff, who are increasingly looking for flexibility in their work lives, and it translates to better business outcomes as well.
Our research showed that the 48 percent of businesses that had adjusted their ways of working since the pandemic were more likely to report increased productivity and an increased ability to innovate than businesses whose ways of working had stayed the same.
Productivity a priority
Productivity is top of mind for businesses this year, and great people are seen as the key enabler of better productivity levels.
Over half of the business leaders who prioritise productivity are planning to invest in employing more highly skilled people, and they’re looking to sweeten the deal with perks like leave and additional training. Nearly half of those leaders increased salaries, and 46 percent introduced flexible working.
The 2022 business environment is a completely new picture for employing leaders, and while the 2020s so far have been defined by adapting to survive, now businesses should be looking to adapt to thrive.
What that adaptation looks like will be different for every business. For some, it means hybrid or remote working, for others it’s adjusting opening hours, or introducing new products or services.
We also know that, when deployed effectively, new technology tools can be a great enabler for businesses wanting to streamline their administrative processes and focus more on getting their business ahead. There are great solutions for businesses to upskill their staff online in a way that is less time-consuming than traditional training, for example.
Take the initiative
I’d encourage any business that’s struggling to be brave enough to ask for help. There are great resources at local Chambers of Commerce, making use of that expertise will help businesses share the load of the current environment.
There are challenges that business leaders can’t control: inflation and immigration levels are both creating struggles that businesses are largely a passenger for. The impacts of those issues aren’t being felt equally, but there are lessons to be learnt from the businesses that are weathering the storm and thriving.
The recipe for success is taking the initiative to tackle this new environment by addressing factors that they can control. We’ve all shown our ability to roll with the punches over the past few years – now is the time to take that experience and resilience and utilise the resources that are available to grow and strengthen business in Aotearoa.
Andrew Fairgray (picturd) is Chief Business Officer at 2degrees, Read more about the Shaping Business Study here: https://www.2degrees.nz/business/shaping-business-study