If the economic fallout of COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that resilience is the key to survival. Although it was an unprecedented time, economic hardships of the past, such as the crash of 2008-2009, also provided lessons in resilience.

As Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal of McKinsey write, "McKinsey research on the 2008 financial crisis found that a small group of companies in each sector outperformed their peers. They did get hurt, with revenues falling about the industry average, but they recovered much faster. By 2009, the earnings of the resilient companies had risen 10 percent, while that of the non-resilients had gone down almost 15 percent. What characterized the resilient companies was preparation before the crisis—they typically had stronger balance sheets—and effective action during it—specifically, their ability to cut operating costs."

According to McKinsey, that advice is still sound today. In addition, many businesses in the post-COVID era have had to rethink their entire business model.

Anticipation and Preparation

One major takeaway from the coronavirus crisis is that you can never be too prepared for the future. One positive to come out of an otherwise gut-wrenching ordeal was that it gave businesses an idea of what can happen in the event of a major crisis. We now have a sense of how we can remake our businesses to stand up to similar obstacles in the future.

Reexamining the business model

Resilient businesses must take a long, hard look at their business model. Is your business relevant in the "new norm?" If so, is that relevance sustainable? If not, what are consumers' current needs that you could conceivably meet with a business pivot? Finding the answer to that may be key to your future success.

We've all seen how businesses deemed "essential" were able to remain open when others were forced to close temporarily. Is there a way you can position your business to be essential if similar circumstances should once again arise?

Reconsidering the supply chain

As you tweak your business model, you may need to also tweak some logistics. Take a look at weak points in the supply chain and look for ways in which they can be improved. Initiate conversations with suppliers and partners to look for ways in which all parties can benefit and prevent major disruptions during unforeseen conditions.

Place new emphasis on flexibility and agility

The pandemic forced businesses to think on their feet and discover areas of flexibility that were never explored in the past. It's time to embrace that flexibility for a more permanent way of doing things. Resilient businesses are flexible and agile, ready to continue operations in the face of extreme challenges.

Work to optimize productivity and automate tasks so that workers can be focused on tasks that require a human touch. This breeds efficiency, which is ideal for agility. Continue to enable remote work when possible so it will be a less drastic disruption if it again becomes a necessity.

Explore e-commerce options that give your customers more flexibility to conduct business with you, so that you can continue to sell even if you have to close your doors. This includes flexibility in payment options. Reduce friction as much as possible so that it is as easy as possible for customers to pay you.

Customer service and loyalty are key

Perhaps the most critical element of all, when it comes to resiliency, is your ability to foster customer loyalty. You want your customers to stick with you through good times and bad, so it is imperative that you continually provide top-notch customer service and build relationships that keep them coming back. A loyal customer will always want to support their favorite business, so it behooves you to always keep customers top of mind.

Resilient businesses figure out how to plan for the challenges that lie ahead and then meet them head on and come out stronger on the other side.