5 steps to future-proof your business
The business landscape is notoriously disruptive, volatile and unpredictable. And for businesses to withstand this level of uncertainty, it’s not enough to simply have the best product, the best price, or even the best service.
There are steps you can take to ensure the sustainability of your business, in order to protect and govern its future. Preemptive planning for risk and challenges surrounding your business’ longevity should be a priority for leaders. There is no room for complacency in the world of entrepreneurship, and leaders must create an adaptable environment that can react positively to the inevitable changes that lie ahead.
1. Get online
It sounds simple. And while most businesses are already online; be that an e-commerce platform, a website, or a social media presence, we’re talking about moving your entire business online.
Can you ensure business continuity in the event of a natural disaster, a system crash, or a break in? If your entire archive is paper-based, how do you expect to withstand the digital revolution?
Eventually, most daily business operations will become (and already are) digital, such as HR, finance, and customer service. So if you haven’t already, we would recommend you start thinking about transferring everything onto a secure cloud or private server. Even tax will be going digital from 2019. And, with the proliferation of virtual recruitment and virtual jobs, business only simply can’t afford to ignore technology.
2. Make useful business contacts
Networking and creating valuable connections is about more than collecting business cards. It’s about exposing your brand, your name, and acquiring useful knowledge through your peers.
What’s more, you never know when you might need to ask a favour. And conversely, your knowledge could be used to guide others too, which might be reciprocated in the future.
It’s important to have a wide network of valuable and diverse connections in the business world because those connections could lead to the facilitation of other valuable relationships. In the event that a service or product is required in the future, recommendations can serve you twofold. Plus, there are multiple known benefits to networking that bring palpable results to your business.
3. Value your employees
Acknowledging hard work and recognising a job well done is said to be more motivating than money. Employees who feel valued, appreciated and challenged are more likely to demonstrate loyalty and commitment. High employee turnover can be quite damaging; culturally and financially, as well as inflicting additional strain on HR and management resources.
To protect the future of your business you must equally protect the future of your employees. After all, if you look after your employees, they’ll look after your customers. It really does start and end with your workforce.
4. Don’t neglect your existing customers
Acquiring a new customer can cost 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing customer
So, looking after your existing customers is essential to a sustainable business. How do you look after your customers? By rewarding loyalty; by resolving any issues and complaints quickly and efficiently; by politely taking on feedback and improving your services based on their experiences.
Happy customers are more likely to become supporters of your brand, and they’ll take care of some of the customer acquisition for you, via word of mouth, and referrals.
Equally, you should not view positive feedback as a ticket to complacency. Always strive to improve and keep on delighting your existing customers. Without them, your business could not survive long enough to acquire any new customers. Existing customers come first.
5. Plan for the worst
Market orientation will always be the first and last primary driver of growth. But you need to be focused on your customers’ needs as well as your future customers’ needs. Does the existing economy, environment, or landscape threaten to alter your customers’ expectations? Will your product or service become obsolete, or overtaken by new trends?
Being cognizant of the future enables you to plan and adapt. But you should also be mindful of your competitors’ progress, strategies and challenges, so as to arm yourself with the knowledge to mitigate the same mistakes and patterns, should they present themselves in your future.
Proper planning prevents poor performance. And proper planning for the worst case scenario will always put you at an advantage. If the worst is about to happen, you’ll be prepared to deal with the consequences and keep business afloat.
Ultimately, a successful, sustainable business is adaptable and robust. And the most lucrative business leaders are open-minded; constantly learning, observing and listening. The business landscape can be unkind to those who favour a more complacent attitude, so implementing these proactive, preemptive measures could be the key to a more future-proof business.