If 2020 was the year small business needed to be resilient to ride the COVID wave, 2021 must be the year to become “anti-fragile”. It has to now go beyond merely surviving and actively use the changes the pandemic has thrown up to grow, prosper and be successful into the next decade.
It is nine years since US author and scholar Nassim Nicholas Talab published his work Anti-fragile: Things That Gain From Disorder but the events of the past year have made it more relevant than ever. He explores how some things (read small business here!) benefit from shock and disarray and thrive when exposed to volatility, randomness and disorder. He explores how to go beyond merely resisting the shock by surviving and staying the same, to becoming significantly better and actually growing and becoming what he terms the very opposite of fragile – “anti-fragile”.
All small business is unique, that is a given. But we know the challenges of COVID are common to us all – increased pressure on cashflow, balancing the new mental health challenges the pandemic has put on our staff with the needs of the business as well as the need to keep up digitally however resistant some of us may be to this. According to a report by Small Business Britain1 COVID has stimulated digital business to leap forward five years. The World Economic Forum2 goes further, stating “…COVID has accelerated the arrival of the future of work” and estimates the UK is automating the workplace faster than any other country. It is riding this trend that is the key to achieving small business success into the months of 2021 and beyond. We firmly believe this will counter all the other challenges, including the pressure on cashflow and staff morale to build a better stronger, “anti-fragile” small business.
Small but specific changes to the way you do things will have an enormous effect. Take away the “time-rich, imagination-poor” boring but nonetheless important daily tasks from your staff and automate them. Accuracy improves as the human element is lifted; staff morale and empowerment improve as you free up more time for them to do what they do best (which let’s face it, is what you employed them for). For example you might be a construction firm that spends unnecessary hours producing documentation to send between contractors for approval of jobs but desperately need staff hours to do more physical work; a legal firm with different departments that are continually wasting time (and billable hours) reinventing the wheel every time an NDA is sent to a client; a personal training organisation that creates bespoke plans for each and every client when really most plans conform to a set pattern that could be automatically created using a standard questionnaire. Each business and situation IS unique and at Autto we recognise this. However, recognising we all have a number of processes that could be done better is common to us all. It’s giving the mind space to take the leap to change these processes that will catapult us towards being “anti-fragile”.
“Yes, I can see the processes we need to change, yes, I can see there are some things we could do better, but let’s face it at the moment we just need to focus time and money on monthly cashflow and simply surviving”. The battle cry of many (most) small businesses right now. But the technologies we are presenting here are NOT expensive – think less per annum of one employee on minimum wage. Plus, Autto really IS simple to execute. You don’t have to be an IT genius – one of our customers newest recruits took just three hours to come up with its first money saving automation on the Autto platform. It really will save you so much money every month. Our case studies show that automating your key processes will lead to a 75% time save – how much money this then saves depends on whose time you are actually saving – the cost savings are infinite. This is certainly something to make your cashflow predictions smile into 2021 and beyond.
At Autto, we firmly believe that 2021 IS going to be more than just a better year for small business. If we respond to the call to digitise that COVID has thrust upon us with enthusiasm and automate our daily business processes, we will do more than simply weather the storm. Being resilient is so 2020 – 2021 is the year to move forward, future proof, adapt and become even better – truly anti-fragile.