How small businesses can cultivate resilience in the face of change

While new entrepreneurs may bring unmatched enthusiasm to the table, unfortunately, many new businesses don’t survive. The good news is businesses’ survival rates improve as they age:

Nearly two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least two years and about half survive at least five years (SBA). 

To increase their chances of survival and success over the long-term, small businesses can take a tip from Darwin, who taught us that the best way to ensure survival is by effectively adapting to changing environments. 

Adaptability can save a small business, especially in the face of disaster, stress, or crisis. Fortunately, adaptability is a trait business owners can build into their company’s culture by creating and implementing an adaptable business model.

10 tips for creating an adaptable business model

Adaptable businesses are agile, resilient, and tough. Their adaptability is deeply ingrained in their company culture, values, vision, and mission. Business leaders set the tone for the entire organization, so it’s critical for leaders to be prepared with a flexible strategic plan. Here are practical tips for creating an adaptable business model, compiled from resources published by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Small Business Development Center

  1. Pay attention to changes in customers’ needs, wants, and behaviors and respond accordingly with innovative ideas and new market approaches. 
  2. Stay current on changing market conditions, industry trends, and best practices for disaster recovery and strategies for growth. 
  3. Embrace technology that can help your business keep up with the fast-paced changes in marketing, sales, project management, communications, payroll, data, cybersecurity, and more. 
  4. Reevaluate financials as well as short- and long-term goals for opportunities to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Periodically review agreements and contracts and look for ways to negotiate costs and reduce overhead. 
  5. Use resources designed to help small businesses succeed, like e-learning, mentorship, webinars, training, and risk assessments provided by SBDC, SCORE, and other agencies. 
  6. Have a plan to keep your teammates and customers safe and protect your employees’ health, especially during unexpected crises. 
  7. Train your employees on fundamentals and practical strategies to keep your company agile and resilient. 
  8. Maintain open lines of communication with employees and give them the flexibility to adapt quickly and make informed decisions during times of rapid change. 
  9. Minimize disruptions to your supply chain that might result from disaster. Plan for alternative ways to meet customer demands during crises. 
  10. Develop a communication plan to build client trust and keep your organization operational in the event of a crisis. 

Above all, remain flexible. While it’s critical to have a business operating plan in place, anticipating change and remaining adaptable is paramount for success.

Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As laws change regularly, you should refer to your state legislation and/or an advisor for specific legal counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workers’ compensation insurance or check your current rate in 3 minutes.

Get a quote in 3 minutes

Save up to 30% on workers' compensation for your small business.