Building resilience in business: creating a market that meets the needs of customers

Chamber Blog with Ken Chen headshot

The COVID-19 outbreak has unleashed an unprecedented shock to our economic and social systems. Business owners, operators and job providers are facing tough circumstances and revenue shortfalls.

Resilient businesses pay close attention to the controllable in their operations to survive and move on.

Focus on the following elements to pivot and rebuild your business:

First, entrepreneurs and business owners should know the state of expenses and cash flow in the business. Immediately assess if the business is still affordable. It’s about the worst-case scenario. If cost reduction is necessary and people must be let go for now, make the cut fast, short and professional. An unaffordable business is a bad business in uncertain times.

Second, pursue known financial and policy supports from all levels of governments. Banks also offer additional assistance. Contact them to secure additional resources for greater endurance.

Third, remember customers did not disappear. Many have simply had to suppress and defer their needs. Others now have new, unmet needs. Businesses can pivot to capture these opportunities and create solutions for them.

Fourth, companies can ensure their processes remain effective in this new normal and that employees have the tools and guidelines they need to perform as best as they can. For those who have reserves to invest in future acquisitions, extraordinary bargains and enormous savings may be on the horizon.

Finally, as we reopen our economies and communities, we know our customers will return but the way they shop and interact will be very different. Health and safety will be top of mind. We need to address these concerns. We must also return to the basic and ask our customers: Is this what you want and how you want it? In a sense, little has changed because creating things that customers want is always what true entrepreneurs do.

Businesses of all sizes are seeking resilience and are finding ways to target the controllable. Focusing on these certainties in uncertain times provides a sense of progress and competence, which is tremendous not only for business resilience, but also for our own mental health and personal resilience.

– Dr. Ken Chen is an assistant professor in the School of Business at Trent University Durham GTA. An accomplished researcher, his teaching interests include strategic management, innovation and entrepreneurship, new venture development and managerial and market research.

Content in this article originally appeared in Metroland.