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How Agility and Resiliency Help Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Succeed How smaller companies are poised to overcome obstacles and are leading the charge for a strong economic recovery.

By Steve Arizpe Edited by Matt Scanlon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Small and medium-sized businesses have long been the backbone of the American economy, due in large part to the entrepreneurial spirit of the men and women who founded them. This includes the drive and determination to operate through thick and thin — most recently eighteen months of pandemic-related disruptions. With returning to the workplace in the spotlight, business leaders are in a new phase as they evaluate and adapt.

Small and medium-sized businesses are uniquely positioned to face this challenge, in part because of their agility and resiliency — the ability to quickly pivot. Even with a surge in variant Covid strains, changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, debate surrounding required vaccinations and employee pushback to continue working from home, savvy leaders who remain committed to a sound plan and strategy can keep bottom lines black, as long as they incorporate a few appropriate steps.

Evaluate the foundation

The rigorous evaluation of a foundation of a company — with a goal of identifying ways of reorganizing staffs, processes and procedures — is a pivotal first step. As conditions change, a business should be able to avoid any scrambling that may cause it to effectively lose its competitive advantage. For example, returning to the workplace in a hybrid model should be a smooth transition for companies that have the appropriate foundation. It also positions them well if variant strains of the Covid virus cause a reversal in the workplace arrangement. When management is aligned and focused, based on a solid yet adaptable foundation, a company is positioned to identify and secure opportunities.

Related: How to Navigate the Post-Covid Landscape

Plan appropriately

Good business leaders recognize the importance of having a strategic plan, especially after experiencing the sea changes of 2020-2021. So, if it has not already been done, now is the time to reevaluate existing plans as the economy continues to fully reopen, and begin mapping for 2022 in a realistic manner. Although many sources predict modest economic growth in that year, plans should be conservative, spiced by guarded optimism. It's imperative for companies to factor in adaptability — flexible goals, processes and strategies that can help stabilize a business during a changing economy.

A pivotal factor is meeting with managers and supervisors to identify areas and opportunities for growth, while pinpointing efforts/departments that should be scaled back. Obtaining buy-in from employees not only helps highlight these areas, it also generates goodwill and trust.

Related: The Right Way to Build Your 2022 Business Plan

Commit to a strategy

Many employers are hesitant, vague or wavering about taking a stance on returning to the workplace, which can lead to uncertainty for employees and affecting both morale and productivity. This moment is an opportunity for company leaders to develop a long-term strategy that effectively serves its needs, as well as those of staff members. When employers can provide more certainty, employees feel more secure about the business and its future, leading to increased productivity. So, leaders should make strategic decisions with regard to the type of work environment employees can expect, now and in the future. Whether the structure is hybrid, remote or in the office, develop and share it, then determine the extent to which procedures involving attracting, hiring and onboarding new employees may have to change further if health and safety concerns increase. Finally, identify and implement any new technologies to help systems remain current and connected. Savvy leaders recognize that developing a company strategy that takes care of its people and places them at the center of decisions helps other areas of the business reach maximum potential.

Encourage innovation

Entrepreneurs are typically regarded as innovators… the engine of new industries, products and services. They take a chance with ideas, and many seize opportunities during challenging times. There are also innovators within companies who can bring creative ideas to the table; owners and supervisors should tap into these resources, encouraging workers to share thoughts and ideas by conducting brainstorming sessions or creating a contest for the best innovations. As an added benefit, these foster team-building and cohesiveness, serving as a way to direct positive energy with a renewed focus on the company.

Related: 5 Ways to Transform Your Next Work Brainstorming Session Into Something Really Great

Display trust and positivity

When business leaders manifest trust in staff, it leads to optimism throughout the company, creating an employee experience that aligns with the company's core values and overall mission. Likewise, displaying a positive attitude can mean the difference between success and failure, especially during evolving times. Finding any silver lining that will encourage a workforce to carry on with abiding faith and optimism, regardless of the situation, will pay off.

Steve Arizpe

President & COO for Insperity

Steve Arizpe is president and COO for Insperity (NYSE: NSP), a leading provider of HR and business-performance solutions. He provides strategic leadership and guidance throughout the organization to ensure success for its small and mid-sized business clients.

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