Building resilience: How to create stability during uncertain times.

Jim Wilkinson, CEO of Zuto

 

We live in uncertain times. Businesses have faced one challenge after another, and we’ve not had a period of stability for a long time. That is why building resilience is so important.

Confronted with the prospect of uncertainty, business leaders often batten down the hatches – by cutting costs or safeguarding capital, for example.  But in an era when disruption is the new normal, conventional approaches won’t work in the same way they did in the past. In an ever-changing landscape, business leaders must engrain resilience into the very core of their business.

At Zuto, we’re focused on building a secure and stable fintech, with people and purpose prioritised alongside profit. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned on that journey.

Purpose and profit

Growth, profit and market share are all important, but they’re only half the story.

In this period of heightened instability people are acutely aware of the impact that organisations have on the world around them. And, as ethical shortcomings become increasingly front of mind, they’re voting with their feet, gravitating towards organisations and employers who match their own values and ideals.

The car finance industry has previously suffered from an image problem, so it’s crucial that we’re mindful of the impact that our business has on our employees, our customers, our local communities and the planet.

Jim Wilkinson

That’s why we decided to go through the process of B Corp Certification. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also builds resilience. Why? Well, people tend to gravitate towards businesses that share the same values as they do. When they believe in the purpose behind that business and the change it is trying to make, customers become more loyal, stakeholders more engaged and employees more committed. All things that can not only help an organisation to survive uncertainty, but ultimately to thrive in the future.

Innovation is key to opportunity 

AirBnB, Disney, Lego, Netflix, Amazon. What do these seemingly unrelated businesses have in common? The answer is that they all flourished following some of the worst economic crises in living memory.

These brands are proof that instability doesn’t have to be a death knell for your business, it can be an opportunity – but only if you embrace innovation. We saw this unfold in real time during the pandemic. Almost overnight, business as usual became a thing of the past. In its place companies had to adapt to survive, developing new practices, new systems and entirely new business models.

Underpinning all of this was digital technology. 

Businesses that have innovated to embrace digital transformation are those that have proved most resilient. At Zuto, innovation has been a cornerstone of our business since day one. Zuto was founded just before the financial crisis in 2008, so we have first-hand experience of what it takes to prosper in challenging times.

Whether it’s leveraging data to create deep personalised offerings, optimising the customer experience, or employing decision engines that deliver pre-approval and real-time rates – technology has been a driving force behind our success.

In a world where the pace of change is accelerating, businesses that embrace innovation are best placed to adapt to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. Put simply, if your business is agile, it will also be resilient.

The human touch 

Even if your business provides a digitally-driven product, the human touch is always important. At Zuto, for example, we know that buying a second-hand car isn’t a luxury for our customers, it’s a necessity. Even during a cost-of-living crisis, it can be an essential means of getting the kids to school or commuting to work.

By taking the time to get to know who our customers are as human beings, we’re better placed to understand their needs, as well as their concerns. This means we have invaluable insight into any potential problems before they occur, giving us the opportunity to pivot our business in order to respond to them in real time.

This empathetic approach is particularly important during times of crisis. With a relationship built on trust, your customers are much more likely to stick with you than with a competitor who is simply racing to the bottom.

Resilient relationships 

Businesses are fundamentally built on relationships. Building better connections with staff and customers can help you to navigate uncertainty, but don’t forget about your suppliers and partners – these relationships can be key to business resiliency. Sound relationships mean that you will often be the first to hear about potential issues, or the last to be impacted by them. Close collaboration can also extend to sharing data and insight, giving you greater insight into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Our reputation as a stable and trustworthy business is paramount. It has helped us to forge strong relationships within the automotive ecosystem and beyond, and these relationships have regularly worked to our advantage.

For us it is also really important to build relationships where you have shared values, and where you understand each other’s goals. It’s not just a case of  entering a relationship because it makes sense commercially; values also need to be aligned.

Right here, right now

Business resilience isn’t a strategy that you can put in a desk drawer and save for a rainy day. It’s like a muscle, something you have to exercise in order to keep it as strong as possible. That means if you want to build resilience into your business you need to practice it every day. How you conduct yourself, the values you stand for, how you treat your staff, your suppliers and your customers – these elements are all crucial to creating a robust business model that’s strong enough to withstand even the most turbulent of times.

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