6 Things To Help You Future Proof Your Business
As innovation accelerates in the business space, the importance of recognising new trends and adapting to them is increasingly important. In our business, we see a lot of resistance from clients who have done the same thing for years and need to change, but are worried about getting caught in a constant cycle of change. As a result, we’ve developed some advice for businesses on how they can ‘future proof’ their business.
We say future proof in quotes because nothing can prevent innovation from shaking up a business space. What future proofing means to us is putting structures and processes in place that ensure your business never gets left behind (and often puts you in front of your competitors). For us, much of a successful future proofing is about making a mentality shift within your business, and we’ve put together 6 things you can do to aid that change.
Recognise that current strategies aren’t going to work forever
This will make the whole process of change a lot less painful. Change is no longer an annoying experiment, it’s a necessity for success. Don’t limit this recognition to those at the top of your business either. You need to make sure that everyone on your team understands that flexibility is key now for any business looking for success. Which leads nicely into our second point…
Keep your managers enthusiastic about the future
Your managers should be your foot soldiers for change. They need to:
- Understand why flexibility is important
- Communicate that importance to your workers
- Recognise upcoming trends which you will be able to explore and take advantage of
The sooner they recognise these trends, the longer you have to ease yourself into them. And having your managers keeping a fresh eye out for them as well means you’ll spot trends earlier and have fewer major disruptions as a result.
Invest in emerging tech
This doesn’t mean investing in the brand new stuff. So many different things are announced almost daily that it would be madness to try, but if something’s gaining momentum you should be taking a look at it. For instance, in recruitment, the agencies and recruiters who are willing to invest in social and web-based searches having all kinds of success, while those who adhere to old methods are beginning to flounder. Telstra’s (Australia’s largest Telecoms firm) head scientist Hugh Bradlow recently spoke about the ways early adopter businesses gain competitor advantages. He talks about identifying the ‘tipping point’ when new technology becomes viable for mass consumption and use. By spending a little time researching these technologies as they appear, your business will be better equipped to identify that point, and invest at the right time.
Allow some time for ‘moonshot thinking’
Give yourself and your team the freedom to ask yourself ‘what happens if…’ Look at emerging business methods and platforms and speculate about how your business will do if they take off. If the answer is that you’re going to struggle, brainstorm steps that you could take to prevent that struggle. You don’t need to action these steps immediately (or at all!) but this way you’re prepared if that trend does become the next big thing.
Make use of your critical data
Using publicly available data is a good way to get a feeling for where things are headed. But this data can often be several months old, or skewed to favour a particular viewpoint. Take the time to collate and consider the data which you have collected within your business (something we’re huge advocates for whenever we speak to our own clients). You’ll not only be able to react to the latest data faster, you also will be working from data that is hugely relevant to you and your sector, because it’s taken purely from that sector. This will give your business much more agility in the marketplace and, as an added bonus, also be something which you can promote as a benefit to potential customers and generate more business!
Create a strong brand and commit to it
Business models and trends change, but the one thing which can persist throughout all change is your brand. A strong and established brand can protect your business as it grows. Brands keep people connected to your business for longer than they might otherwise stick around if they had only just encountered you. In this sense, brands ‘future proof’ your business because they afford you a little extra time to make the changes you need without losing a large chunk of your customers and audience.
A well thought out brand can also act as a guiding light for your business. If for example, a key part of your branding is ‘innovation’ then you should be constantly referring to your own business practices. Can you still accurately stake that claim? If not, are you still doing what is important to you/has meant success for your business in the past?
You don’t need to do all of these things at once, but invest some time in each and see what kind of an impact they have. They’re as much about the mentality shift as they are about the actions themselves; so simply having your managers and workers try each of the above will have a positive impact on attitudes and your flexibility.
Categories: Guest Blog