If 2020 taught us anything it was that things can come out of left field when we are least expecting them and completely upend the things we thought were safe, including our business models. Covid didn’t just affect people’s health but also their financial lives. The news was full of well-known companies that simply couldn’t adapt fast enough to survive. Hertz, Ruby Tuesday, Pacific Drilling, ABA Transportation and Stein Mart have all either filed for bankruptcy or restructuring. Those are just a few of the over 330 familiar companies listed on Bloomberg that suffered ruin due to the pandemic.
The companies listed above are all from vastly different channels and lines of business, so the question is, what did they all have in common? The answer: None of them were Tigers. I’m not being cute here, it’s true. Let me explain.
Tigers. Sharks. Crocodiles. Do you know what traits they all share? On the surface, nothing, right? You couldn’t pick three animals that are any more different. But they do have one very important thing in common that has helped them to survive both time and changes to their environments: They are GENERALISTS. According to Wikipedia:
“A generalist species has a wide range of things in their diets as well as a relatively large area of habitat.”
What does any of this have to do with my business? More than you think. Remember that list of companies listed above? The one thing they all had in common is they were too specialized to survive any major shifts in the economy. When times are good, specialists abound. When the economy shifts or is under pressure, they are the first casualties.
Tigerpaw has been around for over 36 years and we’ve seen a lot of changes, good and bad alike. We’ve worked with thousands of companies since we started and here are some great lessons we’ve learned from them along the way:
- Tigers have many stripes: Organizations that are built to survive and thrive during strange economic times are the ones that have multiple business lines. Depending on your age when reading this, you may or may not remember when Amazon.com was a book reseller. Sure, they still sell books today, but they have garnered a lot more stripes since those beginnings. They are one of the world’s largest online retailers now, as well as a producer of video and audio entertainment. Google has a similar story. Yes, they are the world’s #1 Internet search browser, but they have diversified into and dominated other lines of business as well. Google Maps, home automation, smartphones, and several machine learning and AI initiatives are just a few of their stripes. The customers we’ve seen do the best no matter the economic climate are ones that have many lines of business.
- Tigers can eat almost anything: What do Tigers eat? According to TIgerFDN, just about anything that moves: Boars, wild pigs, buffalo, wild cattle, deer, young elephants, antelope, lizards, crab, toads, birds, and even fish. Similarly, if your business only does project work, and those projects stop coming, you could be in trouble. By diversifying how you get paid, adding recurring revenue models as well as doing fixed project-based jobs, for example, you will be able to have a diverse diet of income streams. Many of our customers and partners said that the pandemic nearly wiped out their project-based business streams in 2020 but that their recurring streams remained healthy and even grew. Your ERP should be flexible enough to let your customers pay you in a myriad of ways to ensure you can get their business no matter how they like to pay. We’ve learned that the best revenue streams are recurring revenue streams. Don’t have enough? You can listen in on this podcast as two of the channel’s heavyweights share the hard earned secrets of how to get more of it in 2021.
- Tigers can live almost anywhere: Where do Tigers live? According to WWF, just about anywhere: Rain forests, grasslands, savannas and even mangrove swamps, even areas with snow. Successful businesses should be able to function no matter where work needs to get done. In 2020, lockdowns forced companies the world over to allow their people to work from home. The remote office was no longer a luxury, it was a necessity. Here at Tigerpaw most of our staff works in our office, but we made sure that when required, they can work anywhere just as effectively. Making sure that you have the protocols and tools in place to allow for remote work can make the difference between survival and catastrophe when things go sideways. Setting up your organization to support remote workers was hard but getting folks back into the office could be harder yet. Here are some tips to help you do it right.
As we move into 2021, we all know that things will never be the same, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! As long as you’re willing to diversify and adapt your business to be more like a Tiger.
We trust this article has given you some inspiration and great tips on how to diversify and broaden your offerings for a more prosperous and resilient year ahead. Looking for more inspiration and how-to’s to strengthen and grow your business? We have prepared a lot of learning for you, no matter how you like to learn. Check out our blog at https://blog.tigerpaw.com/, our podcasts at https://tigerpaw.com/one-company/tigerpaw-radio/ and our YouTube channel. Go get ‘em Tigers!