Looking out ahead: How do I rebuild my business- An operations perspective

Renae is a small business owner wondering how she’s going to rebuild her business once she survives the pandemic. One of her big problems is going to be rebuilding her market, and to do it profitably given that so many of her competitors are facing the same and will probably cut prices to try and rebuild. Renae reaches out to a colleague, Rhonda Manning, and asks her how to go about this. They meet for coffee the next day and Rhonda says this.

“Most businesses probably won’t do the hard work and reinvent themselves for this new reality. You need to and if you do this, you will be ahead of at least half your competitors. You need to pull together your marketing, finance, operations, supply chain, and purchasing folks, and lead them through the effort of not only defining or re-defining your strategy, but stripping down your processes throughout the whole organization and define out of everything that you do, what aligns with and supports the strategy, and get rid of the rest. If you do that, you are probably not only sizing yourself properly, but you are setting yourself up to be better than your competitors operationally, understand your customers better, be able to offer competitive products at a profitable level, and rebuild your market if not even grow it because again, most of your competitors aren’t willing to put in the effort.”

Renae thinks to herself, “Wow, this is a bunch to do!” But she realizes correctly, that if she doesn’t, things are going to be even harder than what is already a difficult task. “Renae, are you listening to me?” Rhonda asks.

“I’m sorry Rhonda, I was just thinking about where to start.” Rhonda ponders for a moment and responds. “I’m not a business strategist. I’m an operations and supply chain person. But I think I’d start with a business strategist who can help me rethink and re-strategize my business.”

“Simultaneously, I think I’d take my departments back for some fundamental training on the dynamics of managing a supply chain and all it’s associated elements. I have this colleague Chuck, who uses a simulation called ‘The Fresh Connection’, and he can help you understand the dynamics of a supply chain as well as the elements of leadership, change management, and organizational collaboration.”

“Lastly, I think you have to have a Lean/Six Sigma (LSSBB) expert in the training as well. At some point, once everyone understands the fundamental dynamics of supply chain, the Lean expert takes over and helps you build processes that are strongly value driven and prevent processes creeping in that are non-value added. All this can be going on concurrently while you work with the business strategist. This is a lot, but if you work through it diligently, then you will be moving forward well ahead of your competitors”

“But Rhonda, how am I going to do all this if most of us are working out of our homes?” “Ahh” says Rhonda, “you’re missing the opportunity this brings.” “We will still get face to face business going forward, and we will still get online business as well. But our customers are going to want I suspect, to work with companies that where appropriate, can work together virtually and touchless given what we’ve gone through with the pandemic.” This means you have to figure out how to work virtually. Now is that chance to recreate yourself and set yourself up for the future. Especially when another crisis hits.”

Renae stares at the wall for a minute, sighs, and looks at Rhonda with a touch of tiredness at the corner of her eyes and says, “you’re probably right. I wish I didn’t have to do this. And it’s going to be harder than I don’t know what, on all of us if we don’t, but there really is no other option is there?”

“Nope” Rhonda say smiling. “But think what you and your business will look like when you get there, and where will everyone else still be sitting. You have the opportunity of a lifetime here. So go find your resources, get your training, and get going on re-inventing yourself and your business!”