How to Build an “Antifragile” Business

Small business owners are concerned (and rightly so) about how the new post-COVID world will be for them. Have you considered how to make your business ‘Antifragile’?

During the lockdown in Melbourne, people were restricted to 5km from home. Then it became 25km. Now we can venture out further. But there will continue to be a limit on how many customers can be in a shop or restaurant at any given time. Businesses near the Central Business District (CBD) will suffer from lower foot traffic as a whole lot of people will be working remotely. People will start moving away from the CBD as they wouldn’t need to live close to the office for short commute times.

To work remotely or not

Here in Australia, we’re coming out of a long long lockdown. Perhaps the longest in the world (so far). As people start visiting their friends and family, and retail and hospitality businesses start opening up, it feels like the Melbourne is starting to breathe again. Tentatively, carefully, fearful of another wave of infections but more than that, hopeful. It’s like Sleeping Beauty waking up after a long slumber. But the Sleeping Beauty of the 21st century shouldn’t just settle for Prince Charming straight away, she should take her time and get to know him better. That’s what we’re doing in Melbourne. Contemplating what our “New Ways of Working” (and Living) will shape out to become.

People working remotely from home are concerned they’ll be forced to go back to the office full-time. I don’t think that will be the case. For employers out there who want their employees back full time, understand this isn’t an “either or” situation, it’s an “and” situation. Embrace the new possibilities that home and office hybrid working scenarios open up for work life balance. With staff that are producing results regardless of their location, continuing this regime will encourage results. This will aid in producing an antifragile business. Commit to the Care & Growth of your employees. This will ensure that they give you their best, and that their productivity levels will increase.

Want to make your business anti-fragile? Make your team feel like business owners

“Change if the only constant in life.” Instead of worrying about what might happen, you can focus on connecting, engaging, and inspiring your team. You can create your business in a manner that is able to thrive in the face of uncertainty.

Now more than ever, small business owners need to develop team members who treat the business as their own. This is how the business will become antifragile. The whole team can generate ideas for and investing energy into business growth.

Corey Pemberton gives five unconventional ways to make your business antifragile. Firstly, using the “barbell strategy”. Just as you would increase the weight slightly used each time you train at the gym, you have to make gradual advancements in your business. Next, resist the urge to fix minor problems immediately. Keeping tabs on the issue might be a better option for the moment. Sometimes the instant gratification of fixing a problem immediately, may have worse consequences in the future.

Thirdly, do more with less. Try cutting out one small activity, and see what it does to your business. The writer goes on to say that doing less shows you whats really important. Next is recognizing that the world is not linear. The world is ever-changing and the smallest change can make the biggest difference, such as treating every customer as though they are the most important ones. And lastly, separate signal from noise. Too much information can cause a lot of noise – allowing decision making too become more difficult.

You want results through people or people who get results?

I know a husband and wife in my neighbourhood who work in the utilities sector but for different companies. Even though both companies have similar market shares, the way they look after their people is so far apart, it’s like night and day. The wife talks about how well her company supports their people and how happy she is to work for them. The husband talks about how his company is all about holding on to market share and profits (which wasn’t going well for them even before the pandemic) and how the managers only care about the results, not people.

If your game is about getting results through people rather than building and supporting the people that get the results, you’re going to keep losing market share. If you have not yet figured out that the people in your team are the secret to success – it’s time to wake up!

Help your business by helping others

So as we start to breathe again, we start contemplating what a work life balance may look like, as the spectre of COVID infections start to recede. It’s very important to remind ourselves that whole the world may seem big, alien and dangerous, but most of the time, we’re surrounded by people who need help just like we do.

The success of a business can come from many different avenues, success is not one dimensional. Everyone needs some form of support – and it is our willingness to contribute to people’s well-being that helps us with our own. Like a rising tide that lifts all the boats.

The planet does not need more ‘successful  people’. The planet desperately needs more  peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds. – Dalai Lama

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If you want to read more about Care & Growth Leadership, take a look at Etsko’s book: The Two Sandals

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