Business agility may sound like a jargon term used in "get rich quick manuals" that don't offer a whole lot of useful advice.
But the truth is that the term simply refers to how quickly your business can adapt and evolve to the world around it. Were you quick off the mark at buying your domain name, or was creating your business website a sluggish and slow endeavor? That is your business agility. If one of your suppliers let you down with a delivery, did it postpone work for weeks, or were you able to get another supplier to deliver the very next day? That is another example of your business agility. Businesses need to be able to pivot their focus to maximize opportunities and avert disasters quickly. The more agile you can make your business, the more profit you have the potential to generate. Here are just a few ways that your business agility can help you take your business to the next level.
To develop a truly effective business strategy, you need time to think. It would be best to look at your business from multiple angles, including how a consumer may see your business, where you sit alongside your competitors, and how your internal operations work daily. To fully evaluate these vantage points and construct key business aims that will shape your future cannot be done without time. If you rush the job, your strategy may be fragile, or you may miss a critical piece of information. Business mobility can help you carve out time for yourself to think if you can reduce the time needed to manage your core business, whether product manufacturing, service delivery, or retail, you can make productive use of that time. Business mobility means streamlining. Think of how you can shave off time in your business's daily operations. For example, can you spend less time answering customer queries by adding a FAQ page or a chatbot onto your webpage? Can you save time with suppliers by creating standing orders rather than having to phone or email to order the same materials over and over again? They might sound like basic ideas, but it is incredible how much time can be consumed by repetitive tasks we can cut out of the working day. That time will soon add up and allow you the headspace to plan your next steps. Freeing up, your colleagues will also allow them to think creatively. Always ask your employees to input on strategy and streamlining service. They will have a different business experience than you and may see opportunities you might not have noticed.
If your organization can move quickly and shift the entire team's focus through one meeting or debrief, you have an edge on competitors who may be slower. Businesses can have expected opportunities such as the Christmas rush. Or if a massive event like the Olympics is coming to your city. You can see these opportunities coming for a long time and begin to think about how you can turn the opportunity into profit. However, there can be unexpected opportunities that arise without so much as a moment's notice. These opportunities can be just as lucrative if you manage them correctly.
An example of this would be a well-known celebrity sporting one of your products (Michelle Obama wearing the vote necklace catapulted the designer into global headlines). If this were to happen, you would want to be prepared to scale up your manufacturing capacity quickly. Similarly, if a competitor goes out of business, you may be able to obtain their clients or other assets. Business agility is about planning for the unexpected. Do you have plans for increasing your capacity? If not, what actions do you need to put in place? You should identify the problems and have plans ready to mitigate them. For example, if your manufacturing capability relies on your workforce's size, research to find staffing agencies that could rapidly supply your team with extra staff. If you would need Similarly if you would need extra cash flow to obtain assets, speak to your bank ahead of time so you know what cash could be unlocked quickly through loans or overdrafts. The more prepared you are for the unexpected opportunity, the more agile your business can be to seize it when it comes. This, in turn, will give you an edge over competitors and maximize your profitability.
A new customer or client is always excellent, but it is even better to retain their custom and turn it into guaranteed repeat orders. At first glance, business agility may sound like it is counter to good quality customer service. For example, if you spend hours with one customer at a car dealership to make sure they get the right vehicle, you might be losing out on other potential customers. An agile business would quickly make the deal and move on to the next customer, with scant regard for the first customer's experience. One of these business models works on carefully curating and building trust through dedication. It is a slow, time-consuming process but more likely to generate customer satisfaction. The other model is churn. Get through as many customers as possible, hoping that the service is convenient and adequate for most of them to be satisfied. The ones that are not are expendable anyway as there is always another customer. It might seem like agility would be more aligned with the second model, but this is not the case. Businesses can deliver high levels of customer care and still be agile. The care just needs to be focussed. For example, you want to send invoices almost immediately after the deal is made. Your service is still fresh in the customers' minds, and your prompt delivery shows you are still aiming to give them attention. The convenience of getting an invoice quickly rather than months down the line when you finally get a day to look at your books will also help repeat custom. A customer who is given time with your service but then given prompt aftercare and follow-up is more likely to return when they need your services again.
If you can create loyal customers, you have exponentially increased your marketing team. Word of mouth still has incredible power and can ensure that your loyal customer tells colleagues, friends, and family about your impeccable level of service. Again agility can create profitability if you utilize your loyal customers as marketing assets. For example, can you offer referral discounts to your customers for every new customer they refer to you? This could see you exponentially grow a customer base creating a pyramid of referrals. If you can grow the base quickly by putting a time limit on the discounts, your agility will be needed to cope with the increase in demand. Business agility gives you the capacity to trial these kinds of marketing ideas and responds to their success. If you have to curtail orders or limit marketing drives due to them being too successful, your business operations are getting in the way of your business success. You have to be willing to adapt to success to build upon it.
Finally, business agility is not just about increasing customer bases or profit margins; it can also help at the other end of the spectrum. Businesses can see unexpected drops in demand that can severely impact bottom lines. For example, imagine if you sell hose pipes, but a drought in your area requires legislation limiting water use. Your business would decline instantly. Similarly, imagine if you were an independent music shop, the rise in streaming music services would have dented your business, perhaps to the point of collapse. If you do not respond with agility to changing circumstances, your business will be stuck in the past and no longer fit for purpose. If you can see challenges coming your way, you can pivot your business in a new direction. For example, the hosepipe business could approach courier to begin selling outside their region. The music store could rebrand itself as a retro shop, with a more diverse range of titles for vinyl music fans. This is obviously very simple when written down. It takes a lot of work to be able to spot risk and pivot away from it. But there will always be threats to any business. You need to be ready for any impending threat just as much as you are prepared for the opportunity.
Business agility is a strength for any business and sometimes can be the very thing that ensures your business survives. Evolution is part of any business cycle. The quicker you can evolve, the quicker you can adapt to the world around you. Remember, no matter how brilliant your business is, the world will not wait for it. Change is happening everywhere. Business agility is about making sure that you can change just as quickly whenever you need to.