Building Strategic Resilience – Ideas and Applications for Small and Medium Businesses

Strategic resilience enables SMBs to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, reduces risks, promotes innovation, builds a stronger brand, and enables long-term sustainability.

 – Sai Kumar Chandran –

The business world has become increasingly volatile and unpredictable, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) must develop strategic resilience to face unexpected challenges and disruptions in the market. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this even more urgent, with businesses needing to prepare for the unknown and be agile enough to pivot in response to changing circumstances. Strategic resilience enables SMBs to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, reduces risks, promotes innovation, builds a stronger brand, and enables long-term sustainability.

Here are some practical ideas and applications to help SMBs build strategic resilience:

  1. Develop a Risk Management Plan: This identifies potential risks that may impact the business and outlines strategies to mitigate them. For example, after a recall of its yoga pants in 2013, Lululemon implemented a risk management plan to ensure quality control and prevent future recalls.
  2. Diversify Revenue Streams: By diversifying revenue streams, SMBs can ensure that they have a steady income even if one source of revenue is impacted. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Starbucks began selling its coffee beans in grocery stores, which helped to offset the impact of declining foot traffic in its coffee shops.
  3. Build a Strong Online Presence: Having a strong online presence is critical for SMBs in today’s digital age. Building a strong online presence includes creating a user-friendly website, developing a social media strategy, and implementing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. For example, Warby Parker developed a user-friendly website and implemented a strong SEO strategy that helped it to become a leading online eyewear retailer.
  4. Cultivate Strong Relationships with Suppliers and Customers: Strong relationships with suppliers ensure a reliable supply chain, while strong relationships with customers increase brand loyalty and can provide a cushion during times of crisis. For example, Zappos is known for its exceptional customer service, which has helped to cultivate a loyal customer base.
  5. Implement Lean Management Practices: Implementing lean management practices can help SMBs build strategic resilience by reducing waste and increasing efficiency. This includes streamlining processes, reducing inventory, and optimizing resource allocation. For example, Toyota’s lean management system has helped to ensure a reliable supply chain and minimize waste.
  6. Develop a Crisis Management Plan: This outlines strategies for responding to unexpected events, including natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other emergencies. For example, Coca-Cola’s crisis management plan includes strategies for communicating with stakeholders, ensuring employee safety, and maintaining business continuity during a crisis.
  7. Invest in Employee Development and Training: Well-trained and motivated employees are better equipped to handle unexpected events and adapt to changes in the market. Investing in employee development and training also increases employee retention and can improve productivity and efficiency. Several industry-leading organizations provide ongoing training and development opportunities for their employees.
  8. Embrace Innovation and Technology: Embracing innovation and technology is essential for building strategic resilience. This includes implementing new technologies and business models that can help SMBs adapt to changing market conditions. For example, companies are increasingly using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve business processes and make data-driven decisions. SMBs with independent facilities can use some of the space to generate green energy – either or both solar and wind to reduce their energy bills.

By adopting these practical strategies, SMBs can build strategic resilience and thrive in the face of adversity. And as said earlier, they will be able to respond swiftly to changing market conditions, reduces risks, promotes innovation, builds a stronger brand, and enables long-term sustainability.

This approach of Strategic Resilience to business is a major shift in mindset and attitudes of the leaders and employees. Such farsightedness can go a long way in not just stability, but also opening-up of opportunities for growth and diversification. An additional benefit of building strategic resilience is the improvement of quality of decision making and resource utilization in SMBs.

Reference Sources: articles and influencers available on social media

Sai Kumar Chandran is the founder of OrbitShift. He is a coaching and consulting practitioner and an entrepreneur at heart. He can be reached at

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