Significant headwinds continue to challenge small business CFOs and their organizations. During the best of times, small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operate within tight budgets and often struggle to balance cash flows. Now, supply chain issues, inflationary pressures, and talent gaps exacerbated by the Great Resignation make times even tougher.
But challenge and opportunity go hand-in-hand. As CFOs, we are known for our ability to analyze complex business issues, solve problems, think strategically, and deliver results. Leveraging these skills and our “big picture” view, we can support cross-functional partners in their decision-making.
Being resilient means being able to recover from or adjust quickly to difficulty or change. During the first COVID-19 wave, most organizations were resilient, quickly transitioning their teams to fully remote. Since then, the lingering pandemic and deteriorating economic conditions have taken their toll. Even so, some SMEs have been able to remain viable and even thrive, despite the headwinds.
While there is no standard formula, truly resilient companies have exhibited visionary leadership, business focus, and people-centric cultures. And according to a new report from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), “Thriving Amidst Change: A Guide to Small Business Resilience,” these elements of resiliency are key to any organization’s success.
What are your company’s vision and strategic goals? Are they clearly articulated? And are they shared throughout the organization, from the CEO to the shop floor?
Having “grown-up” professionally in a large, public company, I experienced strategic planning and annual budgeting as part of the ongoing routine. At its best, the processes led to breakthrough ideas on how to better meet consumer needs and more effectively manage the business, thereby creating economic value. Some ideas focused on a specific business line, such as developing new products. Other ideas were enterprise-wide, defining ambitious sustainability goals, or creating a company-wide shared services center encompassing finance, human resources, supply chain, and other services.
While there is no standard formula, truly resilient companies have exhibited visionary leadership, business focus, and people-centric cultures.
Now that I’m CFO for a smaller business, I’ve realized many SMEs don’t have a clearly articulated vision, at least not one understood and shared throughout their organizations.
Whether strategic planning is a well-established process or a new endeavor, now is a great time to engage cross-functional partners in deep reflection and reimagination of the business. Facilitate a work session to better understand the company’s strengths and areas of vulnerability, conduct research to better understand industry trends and market needs, and determine your overall purpose.
Beyond providing visionary leadership, highly resilient companies should revisit every aspect of their business, including the following six key areas:
Although it’s cliché to say people are our greatest resource, it’s also the truth. That said, how would you describe your current culture? Is it people-centric? How has it changed, good or bad, over the last few years? Reconnect with employees, whether they are back in the office, hybrid, or still fully remote. Offering a “family” environment can be a competitive advantage for smaller companies. In addition, foster a learning culture, encouraging your team to share new ideas, learn new skills, and gain new experiences, while maintaining appropriate accountability.