How prepared is your company to survive in today’s dynamic business environment? The Small Business Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics report 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years. A Bloomberg article claims as many as 8 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first 18 months.

Furthermore, small to mid-sized companies rarely recover from cyberattacks, failing within six months after a ransomware attack. The New York Times reports two of the top 10 reasons small businesses fail are dysfunctional management and lack of contingency plans.

Given these conditions and that hurricane season is upon us, trade war threats are moving the market, and foreign actors are looking to influence the upcoming elections through attacks on cyber service, will your company be ready to respond?

How can you prevent your business from becoming another statistic? For your well-being and that of the Hampton Roads regional economy, your company must be among the ranks of ready and resilient organizations.

It’s important to consider what you would do to fill potential voids in your company. How will your business prepare for a major crisis, like the loss of a key leader in the C Suite? What are the immediate steps you’ll take when faced with a large product recall?

Your company may face a drastic change in market and you’ll have to react to remain competitive. Today’s work environment will not be the same as tomorrow’s.

A key example is the steps taken by oil and gas industries to adjust strategy and approach to re-tool after a significant environmental change. Have you trained your leaders to react calmly under pressure, think critically, communicate action and options for the organization?

How will you communicate your actions so your stakeholders don’t lose confidence? Does your team have the foundation to survive a crisis and come back stronger?

There are models to follow.

High-performing, well-led companies begin to mitigate these risks by routinely investing in the growth of their employees. These organizations also institutionalize feedback loops, or After Action Reviews, as a way to continually grow and improve.

Learning organizations build their profitability and their long-term value by preparing for contingencies, which then allows them to effectively manage crises. Many large, profitable companies have internal leadership academies or well-resourced chief security offices, or resiliency offices charged with this mission.

There are lots of small and mid-sized companies without those internal resources, however. What choices do these businesses have to build such capabilities that allow them to win in this dynamic environment? What are the practical, manageable and affordable answers available?

There are four key factors to building a resilient organization that can thrive and grow through crises.

STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP TRAINING

The most important factor in the success of a company or organization is leadership. Leaders drive change and solve problems. When a business faces a period of intense difficulty, the readiness and abilities of its top management, especially those of its CEO, can make the difference between bankruptcy and survival.

In fact, a true leader can use a crisis to carry out changes within the organization so it emerges stronger and in a better position to take advantage of the changed market conditions.

HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAM BUILDING

A team must be more than a group of people who work in the same space. A high-performing team is a group of people who share a common vision and objectives and who collaborate, challenge and hold each other accountable to achieve outstanding results.

To what degree are you fostering commitment and communication within your team? Or empowering innovative thinking?

PROCESS ASSESSMENT

Successful businesses learn from mistakes and successes. This is the crux of an After Action Review process. There are a series of objectives, a process, and then a set of outcomes. Were the outcomes favorable? Why or why not?

Effective use of After Action Reviews should support a mindset in organizations that are never satisfied with the status quo, where candid, honest and open discussion drive learning as part of the team culture.

REHEARSAL FOR NEXT ANTICIPATED CRISIS

What is the next crisis for your company? Have you done a tabletop rehearsal to see how it might play out? Do you have a resiliency plan or continuity of operations plan?

The military requires units to conduct a mission rehearsal exercise at a combat training center before the military certifies they are ready to go to combat. Your company can build a similar pre-crisis training and strategic plan.

Training your staff, developing processes and rehearsing contingencies will make for a more profitable business and will prevent your company from becoming just another statistic.

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