Running your own business has always come with a certain amount of turbulence… but if it feels like rapid change is the only constant in today’s business landscape, you’re in good company. Working with business leaders across a wide range of industries, we’ve met dozens of entrepreneurs who feel like the past few years have been an uphill battle, even if the financial results have been quite good.
Steering your business through one major obstacle after another can get exhausting. The good news is this. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the frustrating realities of today’s marketplace, there IS a way to brave the storm, navigate these choppy waters, keep your business firmly afloat—and potentially even get back on course to smooth sailing.
VUCA: What It Is & How to Prepare For It
Having rapidly become one of the most frequently-used phrases in the business world in recent years, VUCA is an acronym that stands for: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. AKA—the four major factors that can seem so out of our hands when building a business in today’s marketplace. But are they really?
It’s true that, to some extent, there are global, local, and personal unknowns that can be difficult (if not impossible) to account for. But if there’s one thing we’ve seen to be true in recent years, it’s that throwing up your hands and taking a reactive, woe-is-me stance is NOT the answer.
A reactive mindset can get even the sturdiest businesses into hot water fast. If you want your company to succeed in the face of VUCA—now and in future periods of turbulence—you have to shift to a leadership style of flexibility, vigilance, and resilience.
5 Proactive Shifts Business Leaders Can Make to Beat VUCA
- EmbraceThat Change Is Your Constant
Do you know what separates a building that crumbles during an earthquake from one that survives? Rigidity vs. flexibility. Buildings that have no give will be the first to fall, while a building that can sway with the motion of the earth will be far more likely to make it through the crisis.
The same is true for building a VUCA-proof business. As die-hard strategists, we here at Exit Momentum LOVE a solid, long-term plan… and we understand that the best plans intentionally leave room for flexibility.
Instead of fighting tooth and nail for an uncompromising plan, embrace fluidity as an essential piece of your strategy. Foster a culture of adaptability at all levels of your organization, and you’ll be set up to survive in the face of hardship.
- Prioritize Situational Awareness
As the leader of your company, it’s your responsibility to stay abreast of emerging trends, risks, and opportunities. The point here isn’t to consume your energy by worrying about what could happen—but rather to stay aware and vigilant so that you don’t feel blindsided when something eventually goes wrong.
This is why we push so hard for our leaders to delegate certain roles. Your situational awareness is often what’s sacrificed when you’re stuck in “doing.” By building an intentional team, you free up more of your time and energy to focus in this area.
While every business owner will have their own strategy for staying informed, we recommend staying in tune by keeping track of your key metrics and making time to analyze your core data. By spotting a trend BEFORE it becomes a crisis, you take a more proactive, preventative, and thoughtful approach to remedying the problem.
- Build Your Buffers
Even with a rock-solid strategy and a vigilant, proactive outlook… stuff happens. The time to prepare for a rocky season is NOT in the midst of that bumpy ride. The best business leaders create their emergency plan well before facing an emergency.
What does this look like? Strengthening your processes. Maintaining strong cash positions. Preparing your team and training employees for resilience.
These types of buffers can help you easily absorb the shock of VUCA when it strikes, or the impact of waves over time.
- Diversify Your Leadership
FACT: Businesses where one person is single-handedly responsible for owning key information and making major decisions are extremely vulnerable. If you’re always the one holding the reins in your organization, you’re always one illness, accident, or unexpected event away from business being interrupted or going off the rails completely.
Building a strong leadership team is the best way to stabilize your business’ ability to flow with or without you, and build what we refer to as a self-managing company
Worst-case scenario, if you end up in a position where you’re unable to be present in your organization for a while, you’ll know someone has their finger on the pulse and can step in for you.
Best-case scenario, building this kind of support into your business architecture frees you up to take a more visionary role in your business. It also makes your company more valuable if you ever plan to sell or take outside investment.
- Hire With Intention
When a team gets to the Superbowl, they can have an amazing playbook full of clever, powerful strategies… but still, their ability to execute those plays and take home that Superbowl ring comes down to the PLAYERS on the team.
Your people are everything. This is especially true today. If it’s been a while since you thought about what makes a great hire in your organization, now might be a good time to zoom out and define what traits matter most to you – and to ask this potentially tough question about your culture. Would YOU would want to work for you?
Hiring with adaptability, resilience, critical thinking, and strong collaboration skills in mind can ensure that when life hits the fan—you’ve got a team full of A-players who can step up, show up, and get your business back on solid ground.
Questions About Navigating VUCA In Your Business?
We get excited about helping business owners create strategic plans to overcome your biggest obstacles and get their businesses back on track.
Check out our recent client case studies here to learn more about the types of obstacles we’ve been able to help business leaders like you overcome.
Then, when you’re ready, book a call with us to find out how an Exit Momentum Coach can help you navigate VUCA with radical clarity and confidence.