Tech 101

The ‘What If’ Game: A Conversation With Rieva Lesonsky

Feb 28, 2022

Brian Moran and Rieva Lesonsky discuss ways for business owners to navigate the pandemic in 2022 by playing the 'What If' game.

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Brian Moran - Guest ContributorCEO, Small Business Edge
The ‘What If’ Game: A Conversation With Rieva Lesonsky

In the GetApp Small Business Strategy Series, Brian Moran, founder and CEO of Small Business Edge interviews four top small business experts about obstacles and opportunities facing business owners in 2022. 

In the first episode, Brian interviews Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media and a well-respected journalist, discussing business strategy and planning. They play the “what if” game, which is a series of questions surrounding different scenarios for business owners. Below are excerpts from our discussion.

Brian: What if the labor shortage and “Great Resignation” continues throughout 2022? 

Rieva: The first thing you must do is identify your best employees. What do they need to stay with you? Is it flex time? Working remotely? Make sure you keep them happy and motivated.

Second, if your employees can work remotely, this greatly expands your pool of prospective new hires. It may also reduce your wages and benefits (if you live in a state with higher living costs). Third, look at outsourcing and/or automation as options for labor shortages. What parts of your business can you automate (think self-checkout lines or chatbots for online customer service)? What parts can be outsourced to other companies (e.g., marketing, sales, bookkeeping)?

Brian: What if variants of COVID continue throughout 2022?

Rieva: It’s important to remember that there have been “silver linings” during COVID. Small-business owners accelerated their moves to the cloud, using social media, upgrading technology, and addressing weak links in their systems.

Businesses will continue to pivot and tweak their companies to successfully navigate around COVID. Some may give up their office space completely; other companies may move into completely new industries.

Brian: What if supply chain disruptions don't improve in 2022? What will retailers do? 

Rieva: Retailers have diversified their supply chain. Today, no retailer should have their entire supply chain in one country. I also recommend having at least one domestic source of products or materials that are critical to your business. More expensive but on time delivery is better (and cheaper) than less expensive but three months late…especially in the retail industry.

Brian: What if your computer system gets hacked?

Rieva: Most business owners think they are too small to get hacked, and they are sorely mistaken. There's no such thing as “too small to be hacked.” Most crimes against small businesses are crimes of convenience. If a hacker sees that you’ve basically “left your front door open along with your windows,” it’s like an open invitation. You probably won’t keep out very sophisticated hackers, but if you lock your doors and windows, you have a better chance of hackers moving onto the next business. 

Before your business gets hacked, put together a checklist of everything you need to do before and after your business is hacked. For example, make sure your data is backed up to the cloud. Train your employees on cybersecurity awareness. Routinely change your passwords (and don’t use one password for all your accounts). Make sure your remote employees are using a private, password-protected network.

Brian: What if you invest in the wrong technology for your business, meaning it's not scalable or flexible?

Rieva: What are best practices for technology in your industry? What tech tools are other businesses using? Talk to other business owners, tech experts, and advisers you might have for your business. Do your homework before making an investment. If you aren’t sure about the purchase, see if you can lease the equipment. It might cost you more per month to lease, but it gives you the option to get new equipment without having to sell the equipment you purchased.

Brian: What if your company doesn't innovate fast enough and you become irrelevant with your customers? 

Rieva: Look at your company holistically today, and then determine where you want it to be at the end of the year. Once you figure out your goals, then decide what it will take to achieve your goals. 

If you are proactive in your strategy work, planning, and execution, you can’t help but innovate along the way to your end-of-the-year objective. COVID forced innovation on most companies over the last two years. The ones that didn’t innovate went out of business. It’s almost impossible to become irrelevant if you have your fingers on the pulse of what is happening in your marketplace, industry, with your customers, and your competition. Stay focused!

Visit GetApp’s Contributor Network site to stay up-to-date on the web series and get insights to help your business thrive.

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About the author

Brian Moran - Guest Contributor

CEO, Small Business Edge
Brian Moran is the Founder/CEO of Small Business Edge, a company that helps entrepreneurs run better, more productive businesses. Before launching Small Business Edge, Brian spent 20+ years helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Prior to that, he was an Executive Director at The Wall Street Journal. Brian sits on several boards of small business organizations and is a strategic adviser to business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide through his interviews, published articles, and blog posts.
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