If anyone knows what the word “resilience” means, it’s SMEs. These companies are resilient by nature. In Latin America, for years they have faced a complex scenario in which their access to sources of financing is limited, market competitiveness is high, and attracting talent is difficult.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t redefine the concept of resilience for these companies, it did emphasize the importance of taking it to the next level.
Before the virus, resilience was more associated with working harder to sell more and earn more. Post-2020, resilience doesn’t mean working harder, but working smarter. Any business that wants to thrive in this new scenario must understand this.
In this sense, digitization must play a key role in a resilient SME. For me, this term is associated with more than the use of technology. A digitized company is one that uses digital tools and solutions that provide genuine benefits and contribute to the growth of the business.
We can start with simple tools like WhatsApp. Taking orders in this way is a way to digitize, as long as the new process represents a competitive advantage for your company, helps you reach more customers, or streamlines order-taking. Only then can we talk about what digitization means in terms of resilience.
Despite the adversities the pandemic brought to the business environment, it also had positive aspects. One of them is that going digital, even for SMEs, is easier than ever before. Just pick up a cellphone, do a Google search, and start digitizing your business. The most important thing is to find and identify which solutions your company really needs.
Is being digital the same as being resilient?
Some digital tools can look very attractive. However, that doesn’t mean they’re a good option for your business, since they may not create efficiencies. In other words, it’s not a matter of digitizing for the sake of digitization, but of thinking about how to benefit through digital solutions. For this, it’s essential to know how your company works.
If you ask me whether knowing how a business works or how to digitize it is more important, without a doubt I would say the former. Entrepreneurs who fully understand how their business works but don’t know how to digitize it have a huge advantage over those who know about digitization but not about the operation of their company.
Digitization isn’t only a matter of improving your company’s processes, but of changing the business model and generating an increasingly resilient business that has a practically infinite capacity to grow.
That is what allows you to maintain a real business. The key is not to sit around keeping your SME as it is, but to look at the world, identify problems, and offer solutions people need.
If your SME falls asleep and doesn’t develop new skills, another entrepreneur will arrive who does. Sooner or later, your clients will go with them and forget about you.
Examples of Digitization in Different Industries
The rise of telemedicine is a rare gift of Covid-19. It’s an add-on to in-person care whose main purpose is not to replace doctors’ visits, but to promote health by enabling quality information to be passed easily between doctors to patients.
Dr. Daniel Brownsky is an orthodontist at Invis London who, like other dental practitioners, tried his hand at teleconsultation for the first time last year. “During the first months of the pandemic,” he says, “virtual consultation increased by 150%, and 86% of patients in satisfaction surveys indicated they would recommend teleodontology services to others.”
Besides healthcare, educational centers are offering online classes; neighborhood restaurants and businesses have opened Facebook pages to get more clients and manage home orders via WhatsApp; and ‘senior’ consumers have lost their fear of online shopping. These are just a few examples of how the Covid-19 pandemic is changing business and our lives by accelerating the digitization of our day-to-day activities.
Thinking Time: The Secret Weapon of Successful People
My experience has taught me that an entrepreneur, manager, or anyone who has some responsibility in an organization should take time to reflect. The ideal is four hours a week – that is, 10% of an average work week.
During this time, put away your cell phone, isolate yourself from the world, and think about your business. Taking these hours each week is possible. Whoever says they can’t afford this “thinking time” is probably already experiencing disaster in their business and in their day-to-day organization.
If this is happening to you, set the alarm bells, because not taking time to improve your SME will cause it drift into oblivion. After that, there’s no going back.
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