Navigating the Pandemic and its Aftermath as a B2B Business
As much as B2C businesses have had to change and evolve with the changing times and consumer behaviors in the wake of and following the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B businesses have had to, too. There’s no real “blueprint” for it, but many B2B business owners have learned quickly how to adjust to survive the economic and cultural changes to keep their businesses afloat.
Jeremy Axel is the CEO of Fluent Conveyors, which engineers and manufactures Roller Chain Belt Conveyors, Drag Chain Belt Conveyors, Slider Bed Conveyors, Trough Idler Conveyors & Package Handling Conveyors, with a mission of powering the future of conveyor engineering & manufacturing. As the CEO of a B2B business himself, Axel shared his top pieces of advice for other B2B business owners navigating these uncertain times.
“Every B2B business is in a different stage right now,” Axel said. “Some are running off investments, some are just getting going, and others are cash flow positive. Regardless, these pieces of advice work for any B2B business in any stage.”
- It’s all in the execution.
Firstly, the B2B businesses that will survive are those that continue to execute on what they offer: whether it be a product or a service. “The most common approach is to make sure you communicate very well to your team the importance of execution, said Axel. “Make sure you hold everyone – including yourself – accountable for the jobs required.”
It can be challenging to keep the team on the same page with so much uncertainty, but the first priority should be making sure everyone gets done what they need to get done, and in a timely manner. This ensures that the customers who are staying with the company through the long haul will continue to be happy with the service that you provide, and the business can operate as close to business-as-usual as possible.
- Review each team member’s role.
To do the best job possible, it may be a good time to assess how each team member contributes to the overall success of the company. “Review what each member of the team is doing, and make sure their role has a quick impact on revenue and cash flow,” said Axel. “Or, if it’s a long term value-add, make sure the team or people responsible for that project understand the importance of the intention.”
Not only is this important for payroll, but it’s critical that each team member knows why they need to be held accountable and complete execution. When a team member is aware of their direct impact on the company, they’re more likely to do their best work, and to feel like they’re an integral part of something that needs them. This can boost company morale during challenging times.
- Do not extend beyond the cash you have on hand.
Regardless of what your business’s financial situation is currently, Axel affirms that a key piece of advice is to “not extend terms above and beyond the cash you have on hand.” This is not the time to take risks. Further, Axel added that “companies are slow paying based on their risk, and lean on their cash flow to pay vendors.” To prevent outstanding invoices, Axel says that “for any new client, you should prepare an authorized credit card form so if they are past due, you can charge their credit card in full plus the 3% fee.”
This ensures that you have securities in place to handle any other changes that are afoot, as the toll of the pandemic continues to affect the economy and businesses. Work within the confines of the cash you currently have at your business’ disposal.
- Be intentional and thoughtful.
Finally, Axel emphasized the importance of your role as a leader. Your team members are looking to you to call the shots — and they may be weary. The best thing you can do? “Remain intentional and thoughtful as a leader,” encouraged Axel. This way, every step your business makes has been thought through carefully. “Make sure your team does the same.”
Beyond COVID-19, these pieces of advice can help B2B businesses navigate new economies and world changes with continued efficiency and impact.