ADVERTORIAL CONTENT BY BRAD SMITH, PARTNER, MOSS ADAMS - July 2020
Define Your Business’ Essential Needs to Move Forward with Resilience
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty and market disruption has created headwinds for many businesses. During these unprecedented times, businesses that can discern what’s essential or vital to their success—and pivot to meet new challenges—are more likely to prove resilient and successfully emerge on the other side. Defining your organization's essential needs is a critical step in determining your next moves.
Define Your Hierarchy of Needs
Seeing businesses face such obstacles in recent months reminds me of famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, and how his work could provide businesses a roadmap for the current environment—thanks to his emphasis on identifying strengths and needs. In 1943, Maslow published his most acclaimed, but notorious, work: a paper establishing a hierarchy of human needs.
His theory begins with essential physiological imperatives that include food, water, and sleep, and culminates in self-actualization. On the most rudimentary level, it means we need oxygen before Netflix, personal safety and security before a trip to Disneyland, meaningful personal relationships before success in business.
Each of us unconsciously navigates Maslow’s hierarchy, and our decisions are made based on how vital each need is to our survival. We ascend from the most to least essential imperatives, and then achieve essential needs.
Focus on Your Strengths
In this economic landscape, businesses could be tempted to cut from their largest spend categories, often their workforce, to preserve margins. Decisions like this can be harmful to the business in the long-term however, because they affect morale and slow down productivity at a time when companies need to be at peak performance. Short-term cost reductions could come at the expense of future growth.
Instead, companies that objectively support their most essential needs have a better chance at long-term viability. By focusing on your business’ strengths, you can identify those needs most important to your organization that, once met, will help expand your focus to other objectives.
As a professional service provider, I routinely observe broad patterns across various industries through client services, interacting with regulators, and participating in trade groups. Fragmentation, lack of focus, inefficiencies, and wasted resources exist in almost every organization. Identifying strengths and, just as importantly, eliminating waste and activities which aren’t the core of the business is essential to withstanding adversity.
While every company is unique and will need to prioritize differently, common focus areas to monitor during these challenging times could include:
Employees. Gathering input from employees at all levels can help you identify and work through solutions. In turn, you’ll solidify their trust in a way that could help build an agile and adaptive culture that might create a competitive edge.
Product development. Businesses should determine if they can adapt their products to fit needs and demands of customers that may have shifted during the pandemic.
Technology. Many businesses now need to act as efficiently as possible with less resources, and technology could help fill that gap.
Research and development. Companies that routinely innovate could increase their cash flow by continuing this focus, which often results in a competitive advantage. Innovation can also potentially improve cash flow through the use of research and development tax credits.
Navigating a New Normal
It’s not just the daily operations of your businesses that could impact your current success. Many professionals have found their work and home responsibilities merging since the start of the pandemic.
With these added demands, navigating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs could prove even more arduous. It’s not enough to just identify your strengths, you also need to know how to pivot to other important focuses when necessary. For example, homeschooling children and working from home full-time can make personal and professional deadlines seem even more urgent.
To meet competing priorities, you and your employees might have to be more deliberate about shifting your lifestyle to address differing needs, which could include a more deliberate or concrete disconnect from work during private time.
You clients or customers are likely facing many of the same challenges. Using your personal experiences to empathize with them during this difficult time could draw you closer and make customers feel valued and supported.
Working together, or calling and checking in with them more frequently if applicable, can help you learn what they truly value and provide insight into how to invest in an elevated customer experience.
Hopefully, once you’ve defined your strengths and focus areas you’ll have some additional time for Netflix too.
Brad Smith is the partner in charge of the Moss Adams Eugene office. He has worked in public accounting since 2000, advising companies from start-ups to multinational, privately-held entities. Brad’s expertise includes accounting, auditing, and consulting services on a variety of matters such as business combinations, leasing transactions, cash flow, intangible assets, systems controls, and foreign currency matters. He can be reached at (541) 225-6020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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