4 Strategies for Long-Term Business Success

2 young businesswomen

In the business world, preparation is paramount. No matter your industry, success doesn’t come easy. Short-term gains don’t just happen—and long-term stability isn’t a matter of chance.

But some events are so rare and catastrophic that even robust preparation falls short. Take COVID-19, which evolved from a vague threat to a global pandemic in the space of a few weeks. Yet we all adjusted together: staying home and sheltering in place while switching to remote work and online learning. We adapted to new technology and made what once seemed impossible work.

If we can survive a shock like that, imagine what we can do with more proactive planning and an appreciation of the threats we routinely face. Instead of assuming our computers will work perfectly every day, we might anticipate issues and respond to them more nimbly. Instead of expecting critical business data to instantaneously appear on multiple devices, we’ll lay the groundwork for forward-thinking synchronization. And instead of avoiding the hard work necessary to protect our digital identities, we’ll treat our passwords and private information with the respect they deserve.

We’ve all had to adjust our expectations and react to the upheavals of 2020 and 2021. But what if we turn this pragmatic moment into a “new normal” that redefines business success?

Unexpected data loss can deal a devastating blow to businesses big and small. One benchmark from the U.S. Small Business Administration states that more than half of small companies impacted by data loss go out of business within six months. So how would your company respond if a data disaster struck?

Would you be able to conduct business as usual if you didn’t have access to critical client and financial information for a day? How about for a week, or even a month? Ideally, data should be automatically backed up each day, securely transmitted from your computers to remote physical and cloud-based locations, and stored in a redundant fashion that mitigates the risk of any individual backup being affected. Businesses in North America come in countless shapes and sizes. One thing they all have in common, though, is the endless procession of online threats they face. Ransomware, phishing, and data breaches can affect anyone via malicious emails, infected web ads, and illicit viruses.

A trusted business partner can help you assess and address vulnerabilities at every touchpoint: mobile devices that may not be fully protected, personal laptops that are used for business purposes, and even network drives that could fail because of a faulty connection. A proactive approach to these potential problems—around-the-clock monitoring and maintenance, dynamic firewalls, automated security updates, anti-malware, network threat detection, security incident and event management, and Internet traffic analysis—is a must. Above and beyond the basics of cybersecurity and data protection, today’s businesses must be prepared to communicate about how they prioritize the safety and well-being of employees and clients. In difficult times, we all look to those we trust for guidance. And the connection between employer and employee—and community and citizen—has become more important than ever.

Confidence, transparency, and engagement can go just as far as solid technology to ensure business continuity. Those companies that minimize disruptions and demonstrate flexibility in response to crises can survive and thrive—especially if they empower their staff to take initiative and communicate freely during tough times.

Every crisis forces us to address the here and now, clarifying our intentions and sharpening our focus on problems that need to be solved immediately. But a crisis also nudges us to change the way we think about the future.

Adaptability is key: if a remote workforce finds a digital solution for a problem formerly solved with analog means, embrace that innovation. On the other hand, if an old-fashioned tool works, don’t be afraid to shift. Since large in-person meetings have been shelved for the time being, seamless video conferencing is a must. But if a client or employee is most reassured by the sound of a manager’s voice, a phone call might work better than an email. They often force us to examine outdated ways of thinking. And in those moments, we can often identify ways to respond to short-term problems and plan for long-term resilience.

The COVID-19 crisis has been classified in some circles as a “black swan” event—something so rare and unpredictable that it stretches beyond the normal realm of expectations. In hindsight, we might say, “Well, we should have seen it coming.” But whatever the verdict, one thing is clear: the lessons that businesses learn during a crisis can be carried into the future.

How did your company react when normal operations shifted? Were IT systems set up for remote access? Were employees given clear instructions about using VPNs and mobile hotspots? Was data backed up in a remote, redundant, and reliable way? Was information shared regularly and transparently? Were resources allocated to solve immediate issues? Was a strategic business continuity plan put in place?

The answers to these questions will differ for every business. What’s important is that they’re addressed with the help of a trusted IT partner like CMIT Solutions. We’ve assisted thousands of companies across North America as they solve problems now while better preparing for the future. If you want to survive now and thrive tomorrow, contact us today.

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