Being flexible might be what saves your business

There are many things you learn when you run your own business, a lot of them are little details that you would never have considered when putting together your original business plan. Things like how important it is to keep your staff happy and healthy, how to shift your approach and even your personality to hold on to the right relationships. One thing that is often not thought of is that you will need to be flexible in your business, willing to adapt to change and the natural evolution of where your product or service may lead.

To run a successful business, you need to be flexible. Don’t get me wrong, by all means, you should definitely have strong systems and guidelines in place. But you should never be so rigid in an idea that you can’t accept change, or be able to evolve as you need to.

It can be hard to let go of an idea you’ve fallen in love with. Maybe it’s that original napkin scribble that turned into your business proposal, or the logo you started out with, the strategy you use to bring in new clients. All brilliant ideas that have served you well, but perhaps these ideas won’t serve you forever and that’s when you need to be able to take a step back, be objective and allow change to take place.

Graphic designers can get stuck in this wormhole too. Once you’ve developed an idea and created a whole reasoning behind it, it can be so hard to accept critique from someone with a different opinion. Of course, that is exactly what our job is all about. Designing a concept and look for a client who could potentially come back to us and say, ‘I hate it, start again.’

So what might flexibility look like?

Flexible work hours & locations to suit valued staff

There are many reasons to consider creating more flexible work arrangements.

Good staff are worth keeping, and good staff can be hard to find. If someone in your team is happy in the work they are doing but circumstance is requiring them to move away or spend more time at home, you can be ready to accommodate this. 

Think about the headaches of recruitment, training, probations of a replacement. Not to mention all the historical context your long term staff member holds in the stores of their mind. Something that can only be regained with time and new experiences.

By having the right systems in place, time and location really shouldn’t make a difference to the work being done. With more online applications becoming available to streamline workflows and make communications seamless, there’s really no reason you can’t keep your valuable staff member working from a remote location.

The same goes with staff who need different environments to output different styles of work, or to get them in the right headspace for a big job. The upcoming generation in fact, has an expectation to be flexible with their work arrangements, people are less location dependent, you can advertise a job in different cities and people don’t even have to make the move. There’s one less box to tick in your recruitment process, giving you more options when hiring.

Of course sustaining a remote workforce and flexible hours means implementation of strong online systems, you don’t want bottlenecks and communication needs to be as quick and easy as possible. You can read about the systems we’ve put in place to make this work for bellette here. Remote work also involves trust, knowing that your staff are there to a job and they will do it regardless of where or when. This process of control via supervision can be hard to let go of for some but is ultimately the best possible outcome. It relieves you of stress and it makes your staff feel boosted by your confidence in them - a watched cake never rises.

Experiment with new technology or techniques

One of the places that needs regular review and open mindedness is your digital media. This may be in your workflow systems as we’ve already mentioned, or in your marketing and online presence. The rate at which technology advances can be hard to keep up with, but it is on your side, and staying ahead of the game is what will give you the best advantage. 

A website that hasn’t been updated since the early 2000’s sticks out like a sore thumb and unfortunately presents the idea that a business has not kept up with the market. First impressions really do count and with an increasingly online audience, your website’s functionality is uber important. 

With the update of your website comes the opportunity to evolve. This is a great time to assess all the things in your business that are working well, and to discard what isn’t. Look at your image, services, products, how people interact with your current website and go from there. Don’t miss an opportunity to grow.

On the topic of workflow systems, with the array of online applications that are available to you now, you have every opportunity to streamline your processes. This journey is not a simple one though, you’ll need to first be open minded to new ways of doing things and secondly be patient as you transition. As a result though, you will double your productivity, get rid of double handling and bottlenecks as well as create a centrally accessible database and communication platform. There’s no downside. Bye, bye spreadsheets and printouts - good riddance to ya!

Embrace what you’ve become

This point comes in two punches. First, if your business is ten years on and you’re still using the logo your nephew drew in MS paint, it’s time to upgrade. Your brand needs to grow up with your business, if you want growth you need to first build the chapel. We’ll get into this in a minute. The second punch. Is the core of your business still the same as when you started it? If you’ve noticed a natural shift in what people are asking from you, or what comes as an easy sell, it may be time to have a look at your goals and how you are representing yourself to maximise your strengths.

Let’s look at that logo again. We know you might be sentimental about it, but there’s a good chance it’s bringing you down. We’re not saying you have to go with something completely different, the beauty of design is that you can develop and finesse something to bring it into the modern era. Take the evolution of the bellette logo for example!

In some cases it may be best to go for a total rebrand, depending on how much your business has changed over the years. In others, it might only need a tidy up and firming of the brand and rules around it. Either way you need to be ready to accept the change, open to the ideas of someone seeing your business with fresh eyes. We know it’s hard.

In the cases where your business has totally moved away from its origins - is it time to look at some new business goals? While changes like these can happen very naturally, we still need to make sure that we are making decisions based on solid goals and outcomes. Strategies should be reassessed to suit your current market. 

Ultimately, change can be hugely exciting for a business if you’re ready to embrace it. Being flexible means that you are always open to the options that offer the best outcomes for your business. And trust us, those options will keep on coming!