To be successful in this rapidly-shifting globalized market, entrepreneurs need to be fast on their feet. Businesses succeed because they're able to adapt to change. They thrive when they embrace the kinds of changes that can lead to growth. Here are five examples of changes that your business could benefit from in 2022.
1. Enhanced Cybersecurity Planning
2021 was a record year for cybercrime. Small and medium-sized businesses were a favorite target since owners often don't have the budget for sophisticated deterrents. Thankfully, knowledge isn't expensive. Read about the latest threats and why they work, then spread that information. Teach employees to recognize attacks when they come and to avoid falling for scams. Most importantly, understand that any unknown user to access your network could be a threat and behave accordingly. This idea, called zero trust security architecture, may seem cynical, but insisting upon verified credentials from all users is the only sure way to keep your network safe.
2. Upgraded Digital Infrastructure
Having a plan in place to deal with threats is a good first step. Having the right tech for the job comes next. This should be scaled to fit your specific needs. For example, antivirus software should be installed on every user endpoint, but if you're dealing with a large volume of email traffic, including an additional firewall to thwart malware attacks also makes sense. Don't forget to update your software and hardware regularly. Obsolete computers and programs can have vulnerabilities that make them far easier to hack than updated systems. Above all, insist on the same standards of protection from every user endpoint on your network. The "chain" of security is only as strong as its weakest link.
3. Use of Automation
Even with all its challenges, the internet has given entrepreneurs powerful tools for efficiency. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are the core of this new wave of business process automation (BPA) technologies. Customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation programs can greatly aid digital marketing campaigns. Using chatbots for simple customer service queries has been shown to boost sales by around 67%. Another application is the use of sophisticated algorithms in market research and business analytics. Consider investing in some of these systems, especially if you're doing most of your marketing online.
4. Changes to Internal Structure
Traditionally, businesses have strict, pyramid-shaped hierarchical structures. This is useful for establishing a chain of command and encouraging competition, but it might be hampering your adaptability. Moving to a flat organization structure spreads out both the power and responsibility among employees. This streamlines communication and encourages creative thinking, but can stretch management thin. Which is best to implement depends on the nature of your business and your intended goals. One caveat is that altering the leadership structure of your business also means changing its legal designation, so think long and hard before you shake up your organization this way.
5. Fresh Approaches to Retention
We're living in a time of unprecedented employee turnover. It's being called "The Great Resignation," and it's a disaster that's far from inevitable. Of course, much of the issue can be attributed to wellness concerns and inadequate pay, but research suggests that the largest share of the blame lies with management. A Gallup study from 2019 showed that 51% of workers were actively looking for a way out of their current work and only around a third felt actively engaged. The reason? They didn't feel a sense of purpose at their jobs.
There are a few ways to build a sense of shared purpose. Most vitally, managers need to know when to listen to employee concerns and create a transparent, open-door policy regarding questions and conflicts. Another solution is matching strengths with roles by proactively placing people in positions where their natural talent will be used. Compatibility in this sense goes beyond skills on a resume. Treating people as individual humans is often sadly radical in the business world, but it's the most important part of making work better.
No business has ever survived by staying exactly the same. As you look to the future, keep these tips in mind to make your business agile and adaptable.
Related: Opportunity or Necessity? What Drives a Strategic Business Decision?