Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we'll figure out together what's next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode. Today it's Mark O'Brien on how Aluro Healthcare moved fast to change everything.
Move fast and avoid decision paralysis is the advice from one New Zealand business that's doing just that.
That's not to say it's been easy. When there's been so much talk about the need for businesses to embrace change, you could be forgiven for thinking those suggesting it think it's the easy option.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Just obviously change to what your customers want now, retask your employees, get in new stock.
All so much easier said than done. It's just that it's necessary, no matter how difficult it is.
Aluro Healthcare is one of those embracing change as we move out of lockdown.
Supplying equipment to dentists was their core business before, but they've now switched to sourcing and supplying personal protective equipment, or PPE.
Managing director Mark O'Brien said it became obvious during level 4 lockdown that they were now in a totally new environment. They decided the business opportunity for them was helping people through the changes.
"We were really running by the seat of our pants, doing 70-hour weeks. I liken it to someone being blindfolded, handcuffed and thrown into a front-loading washing machine.
"But the biggest crux of it was about speed and decision-making.
"Identifying where we could actually source products, what products were actually required, and then trying to get them here as quickly as possible."
O'Brien said the key was always to make decisions quickly, even if they were imperfect. So the team of decision-makers was kept small to let them move fast.
He said they then assigned some people to try to figure out what the future would look like, and what could be coming next. Meanwhile the rest of the team tried to keep things moving day-to-day.
"Most of the team were at home, not having a heck of a lot to do, and there were others of us who were extremely busy and run off our feet.
"So for those who were at home, we set projects, one of which was AOTC – Ahead Of The Curve.
"That was to look at what opportunities we had in the short-term, but also the longer-term as well."
It's a smart strategy. The only certainty right now is continuing uncertainty, as not just New Zealand but the world grapples with different levels of Covid-19 outbreak.
Accepting that change will come, and responding to it as quickly as possible, gives first-mover advantage.
Granted, there's the possibility you take a swing and miss. But O'Brien said it worked better for them to simply choose a course of action and then pursue it, even if it meant making more changes along the way.
"To look back on it, yeah we made some errors. But to me, you're going to make errors along the way.
"So long as it's a measured error, to me, you've just got to go ahead and do it."
Listen to the full interview on The Pivot Pod episode above.