Facing Manufacturing Challenges

There was a time, ten years or so ago, when business owners could not see the value of investing in a social media platform. Today, few businesses would forgo a social media presence and are actively participating in growing their online reach.

And today there are still businesses scraping by with spreadsheets, manually entering new product information, and printing out reports to try to uncover data discrepancies. They are in dire need of integrative software to streamline tasks and share data across their various departments and locations. This is a common situation for startup companies and small businesses. Excel spreadsheets work fine when a company is small or when they carry very few products. But if you plan to grow, you’ve got to plan for scalability and that’s where software fills the gap.

Unprecedented Shortages

Businesses were already facing rising costs resulting from high tariffs imposed on imported goods. Many of these costs were passed on to the consumer, manifesting as increases in the costs of building and building materials. Those increases led to rises in homeowner’s insurance. Now we are coping with shortages of items like semiconductors, essential for the automobile and internet provider industries.

In big cities, people are posting images of empty shelves. Many manufacturers are at the point of not being able to meet demand with extended lead times and few options for alternative materials. To survive, they must either charge more for their products or change their product line entirely. Part of the survival process is communicating with customers to relay more realistic delivery expectations.

How to Adapt

When faced with drastic changes to your business, you must decide whether to ride out the situation in the hope things will improve or to accept the challenge and adapt to survive the difficulty. Now that we are two years into the pandemic with no sign things will get better any time soon, survival and prosperity will clearly rely on one’s ability to innovate. Some of the old business models will never return. The shortage of labor will lead to some vacancies being filled by robots, unfortunately. Once you make the decision to change, you need to know what resources are available to support you.

  1. Determine availability of loans available to you. Can a PPP loan bridge the gap for your business? Consult with your accountant to see how much you qualify for and how to best allocate those funds to qualify for loan forgiveness.
  2. Research alternative suppliers located closer to home. This may not be an option for everyone, i.e., if you need epoxy countertops, there are very few manufacturers in the world. But if the raw materials you need are common, you may pay more per unit locally but save on shipping and reduce lead time by ordering domestically.
  3. Can you retain employees by accommodating their health concerns with staggered work schedules and remote work? Again, this solution may not work for everyone but may help your business meet demand for the time being.
  4. Can you change your product or the way you sell your product? Perhaps the market demands you evolve to retain a share of the market.

No matter what avenue you choose, adapting to the changes ensures that you are better able to keep your doors open than waiting until the point where you can wait no longer.