The Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “Nothing endures but change.” The same implies for businesses, where unexpected things happen and things predicted might not. This makes it vital for startups to be flexible. Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing environments and think about problems from new perspectives. When changes take place, you need to stretch your knowledge and perceptions, understand the change and its effect on your startup and devise a plan to deal with it effectively.
Due to rapid and continuous technological and economic changes, startups that are flexible have an advantage over the ones that are rigid. Startups adopting a flexible approach can bend and twist when needed, without stretching things beyond limits. Below listed are some of the ways in which your startup can adopt flexibility.
1. Reading and Acting on Signals
To adapt to changes, a startup must have its antennae tuned to signals of change from the external environment, and comprehend and respond quickly to reinvent its business model. In this competitive environment, various signals may be available simultaneously to all businesses. You should ensure you have the right approach to acquiring the relevant information. It is important to leverage your signal-reading capabilities to improve your operations and take quick decisions.
For example, the UK-based grocery retailer Tesco performs detailed analysis of the buying patterns of its loyalty-card program members to customize offerings for each store and each segment and get early warning of shifts in consumer behavior. These findings supported company’s attempts at becoming a successful online platform that offers a wide range of products and services and extending its business model.
It is important to properly communicate your employees about the changes. You should clarify the need and reason for the change, and what they need to do to effect such change. Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest obstacles to change. Making them understand that risks are reduced if your startup undergoes changes is essential for increasing employees’ assurance. Communications that contradict each other can hamper the change process and increase employees’ uncertainty about the future outcome.
If there is some unexpected change and you take a decision to stick to the old business situation, you might not be benefited. You may face failure while adjusting to changes, but if you stick to the old regime, you are surely going to fail. The best decision is to move on to the changing environment. As an entrepreneur, you can’t be rigid in your decision-making and see your inflexible decision as “holding your ground” despite impending danger. Being flexible in your decision-making and willing to make a decision that won’t cut off your future options is important because unexpected changes are bound to happen in this uncertain business environment.
A flexible startup is willing to try new approaches, even when the old ways are working fine. By continuously refining your company’s policy, you can find out new and better ways of getting things done from your workforce and bringing innovation. Over time, your startup will become more efficient, meaning higher revenues and decreased costs.
Flexible organizations give their employees more options, making it simpler for them to meet their commitments. For example, allowing telecommuting or incorporating flexible work schedules can be beneficial for employees who have demanding responsibilities.
A flexible business leverages the strength of its workforce. No two people are the same, and an effective entrepreneur knows how to unite people with diverse skills so that their differences complement one another. Making teams that are flexible enough to handle a variety of challenges can also help in increasing your startup’s effectiveness.
5. Globalization Approach
Startups should have a globalization approach, given the ease with which businesses can transact online with consumers over long distances and overseas. Products and services that were once confined to only local markets and audiences are now marketable to the international customer via the internet through websites and marketplaces. As a startup, you can be profitable in this global era only if you can adapt to the international markets and get the knack of the native culture, cope with currency wars and deal with competing businesses.
It is crucial to have an open-mindedness towards accepting the new point of views and not hold a particular perception for the success of your startup. By having an innate sense of anticipating future, readiness to tackle to changes, ability to quickly adapt to changing environment and adjust how you run your business, and the courage to overcome unforeseen challenges, you can embrace flexibility effectively.