When you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, it doesn’t pay to dig your heels in the ground and stick to your old ways. There’s certainly a time and place for acting with conviction, but there’s also something to be said for being nimble and flexible, especially in the post-covid marketplace. Are you prepared to do that?
Table of Contents
What is a Nimble Business?
In the business arena, we’re especially prone to throwing around vague terms and using buzzwords to describe essential concepts. Over time, this can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity, because everyone may think they’re discussing the same things . . . when they may not be.
So before we dig too deeply into this topic, let’s clarify what we mean by “nimble.” As AGPR explains, “Being nimble in business means being able to change and adapt to different circumstances. It means having the ability to adjust organizational structures, leadership practices and techniques to meet new market needs and fend off competition. But it’s also something that is devilishly hard to do, and most large organizations fail.”
If you truly seek to be nimble, you have to make that a priority throughout your entire organization. It must become part of your DNA. You have to build an agile culture and not settle for anything less.
Four Ways to Be More Nimble
Being nimble requires serious effort. If you’re at the point of just getting started, the following tips and suggestions might be useful.
1. Destroy Layers
Nothing kills a company’s ability to be nimble like having a tall organizational structure with lots of layers and complicated reporting. Too much hierarchy makes it impossible to be efficient. There’s simply too much bureaucracy.
This is something Girish Navani, CEO of eClinicalWorks, realized early on as a young entrepreneur. That’s why he designed only three layers in his company: team leads, team players, and himself (CEO).
“When [your company is] five people you have roles, you have responsibilities, but you don’t have layers. Why can’t we do the same thing when we’re 4,000 people?” Navani says. “I think we’ve found a way to do that. We’ve structured the company around being a team-player versus an individual.”
It’s easiest if you start without layers. If you already have them, it can be difficult to deconstruct. But it’s not impossible. Doing so requires a clear plan and humble people who are willing to put the good of the company above their own job titles and pursuit of status.
The key is to create a vision for your company and communicate the potential benefits clearly to your team. These benefits should include personal gain, as well as business advantages. If you can get everyone to buy in, you should have no issues.
2. Focus on Customer Needs
Most companies neglect to be nimble because they’re too focused on their internal goals, mission statement, and so on. In pursuit of their goals, they forget to pay attention to what the customer wants. As a result, the organization becomes rigid.
Nimble companies say “to heck with our goals”; what does the customer want? As the customers’ needs evolve, so will the direction of the products, services, and marketing.
If you want to get good at prioritizing customers and their needs, develop feedback loops that allow you to gather critical insights and suggestions in real-time. If you spend time on the phone with your customers – either during the sales process or as part of your customer support process – ask lots of questions and try to get a feel for their biggest problems, concerns, and expectations. Make a note of which ones you’re doing well with and where there are gaps between what the customer needs and what you’re providing.
3. Speed Up Your Service
Nimble companies don’t just understand what the customer’s needs are – they also respond quickly. If you want to be nimble and versatile, you’ll likely have to speed up your service to a significant extent.
There are plenty of ways to speed up support, but having an IT help desk – like this one from GoGenuity.com – is an extremely tangible way. This tool can help you to address the needs of individual customers quickly by routing issues and support tickets to the correct person within your organization.
We live in a fast-food culture where people have the expectation that their needs will be met quickly. On-demand shows, same-day delivery, microwave dinners, and ride-hailing services have made speed the standard. If it’s taking you 24 or 48 hours to get back to a customer, you’re missing an opportunity to delight them. (Even worse, you’re frustrating them and giving them a reason to leave.)
In addition to offering help desk support, you should also give customers plenty of self-service options for easy fixes that don’t require the assistance of a human support agent. This can come in the form of knowledge base articles, DIY guides, and videos. People like helping themselves. If you can make it easy for them to handle some of their own problems, your customers will have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
4. Hire Versatile People
It’s difficult to be nimble if you don’t have the appropriate people in place. In order to have the right people, you must prioritize versatility in your hiring.
Versatile employees are those who can move beyond the specific responsibilities of their role and adapt to changing demands over time. When your business shifts due to evolving customer needs, the versatile employees will know how to stay right with them.
Versatile people have such traits as a high work ethic, clear communication, pleasant personality, inquisitive mindset, persistence, and good writing skills. Focus on these talents and you’ll have a flexible workforce that’s ready to embrace any new challenge (no matter how novel it may seem).
Ready, Set, Go!
Keep in mind that you can’t transform your company into a nimble organization overnight. But you have to start somewhere. We hope this article has given you some specific tactics and insights you may use to begin moving in the right direction.