4 strategies to help your business thrive in a tough economy
None of us has a crystal ball to tell what the economy will do for the remainder of this year, next year or beyond. But with rising interest rates, ongoing supply chain issues and a myriad of other challenges and unknowns that may lead to recession, you’ve probably already started to tighten up spending wherever possible. Those efforts likely include some combination of reducing the pace of hiring or existing headcount levels, outsourcing work where it’s more cost effective, and implementing systems and tools that reduce the amount of labor required. The big challenge is to make changes in ways that allow you to maintain focus and investment into the core competencies of your business. At the same time, you need to be ready for unexpected consequences resulting from changes in available resources. When staffing is lean and workloads are high, mistakes are bound to happen, and it’s important to plan for this reality.
1. Invest in systems to double your tech productivity
With tight resources, there is even more pressure not to waste time on unproductive work. Without improvements in systems to streamline duties, a higher percent of the worker’s day goes toward necessary but tedious background tasks instead of moving the business and your customers’ experience forward. Inefficient use of time delays strategic initiatives and causes worker burnout. This is a good time to implement systems that minimize the need for manual work and excessive management, especially in areas that are outside the organization’s primary mission.
The SaaS world is full of innovative solutions that help streamline operations, save employee hours, and allow teams to do their work efficiently. When operating with a lean staff, this is especially important. I polled some colleagues and uncovered these favorites:
Our customer support team couldn’t deliver the exceptional proactive support that earns Clumio a cloud NPS of 93 without an integration of Zendesk, Slack, JIRA and Clumio’s own in-house software. The customer support team uses this tech stack to streamline requests and responses, allowing the team to remain lean while ensuring consistent, high-quality customer support experiences where nothing falls through the cracks.
Having the right tools and resources in place allows the Clumio sales team to be efficient and nimble. Using tools like Salesforce, Zoom, Crunchbase and LinkedIn allows the team to connect with and respond to prospects quickly while covering numerous time zones from our west sales office. Whether working from the office or remotely our SaaS tech stack allows us to transition from working at home, in the office and even in the field without interruption.
Our marketing team uses Marketo and Leadfeeder, integrated with Salesforce to organize, automate and track marketing campaigns and deliver leads to the sales team. Sprout Social helps the team plan and amplify Clumio’s social media presence, making it easy for all employees to share posts.
2. Implement solutions that will withstand churn
As the economy is volatile and shifting at a fast pace, the trend for employees continues to be toward more frequent job changes. This creates another challenge when data is stored for compliance needs. The regulatory time required to hold on to information, which is often up to seven years, can frequently outlast the tenure of employees who are responsible for maintaining it. This can cause problems if data needs to be retrieved by someone other than the original person who stored it and knew where it was kept.
To mitigate this potential issue, you can enact these simple policies:
No single-owner solutions. Many businesses have that one employee who holds the sole knowledge and responsibility for a particular business-critical area. Invest in training other employees in this area and create a knowledge-sharing and documentation plan.
Ensure visibility. Distributed teams developing in the cloud don’t always follow the same policies, procedures and naming conventions. Make sure you have the tools to see and understand all of your data.
3. Prepare for errors from heavily burdened headcount
Employees that are resource-constrained are more likely to make mistakes. Without the proper precautions in place, these mistakes can become big, costly emergencies, but this doesn’t have to be a given. While something as simple as a data entry error at the end of a long day can result in significant recovery time and cost, the consequences can be minimized with the right processes and systems in place. All the initial budget savings won’t help if they result in sizable, unplanned expenses caused by errors.
4. Protect your valuable data so little problems don’t turn into big expensive ones
Deletion of data, whether done by mistake or intentionally by a malicious actor, can result in an expensive and distracting waste of time and money. The news is filled with stories ranging from typos that resulted in problems from huge stock trading losses to an accidentally deleted hit movie. We all need to set up our businesses for success in this challenging environment. Implementing an air gapped, immutable backup and recovery solution will allow you to quickly recover from otherwise expensive keystroke errors.
The takeaway: Planned, controllable expenses help avoid unplanned, uncontrollable ones
When you’re being vigilant in the effort to tighten up your budget, remember to consider all the things that could go wrong and their potential impact. While it’s tempting to skimp on systems and services to save budget, it may not be the best overall strategy. Have systems ready to mitigate mistake-prone areas, especially those whose consequences are expensive. Planning and budgeting wisely now can save you and your business critical time and money when it’s most important. I hope these tips will help you prepare to thrive in the challenging economic environment.