The Covid-19 Pandemic has unveiled how important it is for businesses to swiftly adapt their operational strategies to accommodate of societal change. As Tara Hunt articulates, “the most obvious shifting of business priorities [over the past year] has been towards the digital delivery of everything from tele-health to streaming live performances to child care services and beyond.”
During the pandemic, ongoing lockdowns narrowed in-person interaction. Many businesses had to make necessary shifts to accommodate things like remote working, virtual communication, online sales and customer access to services.
The owner of Hector Larrivée, for example, says minimizing losses during the pandemic meant that his company quickly had to offer new services to a new set of clients. The fruit and vegetable distributor typically supplies fresh resources to restaurants and hotels in Montreal. After the onset of Covid lockdowns in Quebec, the company called previously laid-off marketing and IT employees back to work. These employees focused on reconfiguring and prioritizing the company’s B2C (as opposed to its B2B) strategy. Additionally, the company’s marketing employees quickly advertised the company’s new and adapted services, which included home deliveries to customers.
Most pre-existing business owners realize that the future is digital, and the pandemic has only made this all the more apparent.
A New Generation of Business Owners
In a summary of their Business Transition COVID-19 Poll, KPMG reports that they “heard from entrepreneurs about the growing importance of technology, a lesson driven home by the realities of working during a pandemic. Most (78 per cent) of entrepreneurs said companies must go digital to compete and 70 per cent believe a more tech savvy generation of leaders is needed to succeed in the new business reality.”
Many established business owners have owned their businesses for years. Those who are ready to retire in the next 5 realize that there is immense value in adapting their operational strategies, but either feel they don’t know how to begin to make changes or that they don’t have the skills and knowledge to reinvent.
This leaves a need for young entrepreneurs to step in, take over ownership and revitalize. The average buyer tends to be between 30 and 50. Buyers in this age category have roughly 10-30 years before they will retire, but still have enough industry experience as well as the networth to invest successfully in an acquisition. Likewise, this demographic of entrepreneurs has grown alongside the advancement of technology, society and environmental changes. They are equipped to institute major changes to businesses that ensure the growth and elevation over the downfall of long-established enterprises.
Innovation and Reinvention of Pre-existing Businesses
Many people perceive entrepreneurs who develop start-up businesses as the drivers of innovation. But, a true innovator isn’t the person who designed the dress; rather, it’s the person who repurposes the dress and turns it into a reusable, sustainable shopping bag. The ways entrepreneurs can creatively renovate and reinvigorate pre-established businesses are plenty.
What Can You Do to Reinvent Your Recently Acquired Company?
1. Digitize your operations
Use your digital skills to streamline operations and improve employee efficiency with the help of technology. Nowadays, it’s easy to find ways to digitally renovate business operations and management systems. There are countless digital tools on the market that are created with business efficiency in mind. To name only a few, a program like Quickbooks simplifies accounting and invoicing, Shopify makes eCommerce management seamless and Slack encourages company-wide communication.
As Bill Patterson of Salesforce expresses, “now more than ever, the fundamentals of putting customers and employees at the centre of your experience are the most crucial investments you can make.”
In restaurants, point of sale systems have replaced paper ordering and note taking. Something as simple as removing the use of paper is not only a sustainable move but it also prioritizes the efficiency and effectiveness of customer and service professional relations. Prioritizing efficiency through digital renovations makes employee and customer experience better and also leads to faster sales.
2. Rebrand or redesign
Whether as individuals we are artistically inclined or not, the 21st century revolves around visual and aesthetic experiences. Today, many successful businesses prioritize keeping up their appearance. Human beings are visual creatures—we interact with businesses based on what they can provide in addition to how they present their products or services to us.
Of course, many businesses continue to thrive despite having simple product design and non-contemporary branding. After all, there are countless businesses out there that provide valuable services without intriguing marketing—image isn’t always an issue or matter of concern for businesses that deliver necessary services and products.
Regardless, this doesn’t discount the idea that many longstanding businesses could benefit from a change. Younger generations, in particular, idolize visually compelling brands and products. A logo refresh, a contemporary motto and mission statement, a new identifiable branded color or a modern and visually appealing awning can transform your company image and intrigue new customers to engage with your business.
3. Invest in creating an online presence
Yet again, whether we like it or not, many businesses rely on the strength of their online presence to maintain sales and customer reach. In the past, it was common for larger businesses to have detailed eCommerce websites. In recent years, smaller local companies have begun to see the value of investing in their online presence. With a strong online persona, a business located in a small rural Alberta town can reach a customer base located across the world.
Investing in a strong eCommerce platform as well as curated social media accounts not only promotes immediate sales but can also encourage non-buying customers to engage with your content and become lasting customers who will purchase in the future.
Many businesses realize the value of providing diverse forms of content, from video to images to content writing. Solidifying and expanding the searchability of your business content (through SEO) will transform your business, its efficiency, sales base and product portfolio. An online presence converts your business from an entity that provides a service to an enterprise with culture and a community that supports it.
4. Make products, services and operations sustainable
According to Entrepreneur contributor, Mo Ghoneim, “corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer optional; consumers want it, and the world needs it…it’s essential for any business owner to stay competitive.”
It’s important and also essential that businesses, big or small, find ways to operate more sustainably. As Ghoneim suggests, many current consumers choose to engage with specific businesses because of their environmental awareness and their meaningful initiatives to narrow their carbon footprint.
The scope of what’s possible in terms of making sustainable changes varies depending on the industry and the type of business making those strides. Some straightforward examples include:
- Redesigning packaging to utilize recyclable materials
- Implementing recycling programs to reuse resources
- Digitizing certain business services to eliminate waste
- Replacing dated equipment with newer more efficient models
5. Restructure your company’s mission and prioritize operations that focus on inclusivity
Business acquisition presents a superb opportunity for new business owners to prioritize their company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). Through acquisition, pre-existing businesses evolve because their new owners want to focus on fostering better workplace environments as well as greater social and community change.
Investopedia states, “as important as CSR is for the community, it is equally valuable for a company. CSR activities can help forge a stronger bond between employees and corporations, boost morale and help both employees and employers feel more connected with the world around them.”
To be a truly forward-thinking acquisition entrepreneur, it’s fundamental to promote an inclusive community in your new business space. Take initiative—ensure that your company is culturally rich and diverse.
- Work alongside long-standing employees to find opportunities to hire new employees with both broad and specific expertise.
- When hiring, generate inclusive criteria for your new employees.
- Partner with organizations that advocate for inclusive practices.
- Support products and services from diverse suppliers and contractors.
- Continuously expand your efforts to connect with new communities and customer bases.
While many established business owners who look to sell may have already initiated processes to implement changes in their businesses, many have also not. This is because changes like huge renovations, inventory flips and digitization tactics typically require resources that business owners may or may not have access to. For example, pre-existing business owners may not have an employee pool with knowledge of specific processes, liquid money required to renovate or the ability to sacrifice time to temporarily close their doors to accommodate for the implementation of changes).
At a certain point, however, change is necessary. For businesses to continue to survive and, ideally, thrive, they must keep up with the rapidly evolving times.
This presents a great opportunity for buyers during acquisition because they can choose to factor these sorts of expenses into their acquisition, financing package and plan for succession. As such, buyers become the saviors of these businesses’ livelihoods, swooping in to use their entrepreneurial drive, resourcefulness and means to restore businesses for the better.