How to future proof your business

How to future proof your business

Sticking to the status quo is a surefire way to drive your business into the ground. If what you are doing now is working well, it’s a pretty fair assumption that if everything stays the same then you will keep doing well. The problem is; nothing stays the same. Markets change, customers change and technology changes. If your business doesn’t change, it will get left behind.

Think about it. Just 20 years ago, to pay bills we went to the post office, to find out what movies were on we checked the newspaper and the idea of shopping from home and getting our purchases delivered to our front door was the stuff of science fiction.

Good leaders are always looking to the future – anticipating, reacting and challenging – as a way to ensure their business is well placed to respond to whatever the future holds.

Here are 8 things you can do to future proof your business:

1. Stay interested – Keeping an eye on news, trends and current affairs is important, not only for your business now but also in the future. Spend some time researching online too; there are loads of inspirational people and channels to follow.

2. Learn from the past – Have you managed change well in the past? What did you do that worked? Likewise, if you haven’t managed change well, think about what went wrong.

3. Identify risks or shifts – Identifying risks early will help you to mitigate them early too. In business, surprises are generally not a good thing. Also markets can shift, what do you need to do to stay relevant?

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – If you business relies on just one product or service, it will be less resilient to even the smallest changes.

5. Stay open to innovation – Good ideas can happen anywhere and come from anyone. Keep your ears to the ground and don’t dismiss an idea even if it sounds outrageous. Sometimes the best ideas come from the most ridiculous suggestions.

6. Listen to your customers – Customers are often the drivers of change. Listening to them and watching their behaviour can help keep you one step ahead of the game.

7. Look to other markets – Keeping an eye on other markets can help you to predict what could be round the corner at home.

8. Finally, and most importantly, act – If you have even an inkling of what could be coming, make a plan. Knowledge is useless without action.

So what are the factors today that are likely to influence small business tomorrow?

Here are our top six game changers that small businesses need to consider in order to be future proof:

  • Ethical consumerism: People care – about other people and the planet.

  • The next generation: Gen Z. They are the first true digital natives; they are entrepreneurial, smart, cynical, private, health conscious, accepting and kind. And there are a lot of them.

  • What other people think: More and more we are being influenced by others. Heck, being an ‘influencer’ is now an actual job. The voice of authority is shifting.

  • The world is bigger than it was: The borders have gone and business is global. The corner dairy used to service a small community, today world markets are much more accessable.

  • Speed and convenience: We’re no good at waiting these days and we don’t want to go out of our way. If it’s quick and convenient, the people will come.

  • Technology: Digital technologies, the Internet, social media, the cloud – next is AI or artificial intelligence, and it’s huge.

Future proofing your business isn’t about star gazing, it’s about planning. A successful business is flexible and quick to adapt, and in order to that it needs a leader who is knowledgeable, open to new ideas and prepared. Future proofing your business will help you to keep your customers, attract new customers and anticipate where the opportunities are no matter what the future holds.

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