If you could predict what was going to happen then you wouldn’t be reading this – or at least you’d know how it ends! Sadly though, seeing into the future is still mostly guess work. However, you can always make smart decisions.
Where your business is concerned these decisions can mean the difference between success and failure. Today’s decisions will affect tomorrow’s performance. So they always need to be made wisely.
Here we look at how to future proof your business. How to make the right decisions today for a better tomorrow. How to be proactive in the market and not merely reactive to problems as they arise.
Ultimately it might mean making changes or switching around your suppliers and partners. Changing to a new logistics company such as Same Day Couriers Direct might, for example, just be how you’ll succeed. Things don’t have to be complicated but action needs to be taken – and the sooner the better. In fact you should start right now, no really you need to…
In business there is no standing still. You are either growing or shrinking. Doing nothing is not an option, you have to make decisions and stand by them. Now not every decision will be correct of course, but those that never make any decisions will ultimately perish. It may be hard to learn from your mistakes, but at least you are learning! The only thing you learn from doing nothing is how to be lazy!
Why do you think people have two ears and one mouth? Because humans were meant to listen. You’ll learn a lot more listening to others than you will talking about yourself. So always engage in active listening.
- listen to your employees, not only will this empower them but often they’ll know the business the best
- listen to your customers as how else are you going to learn about difficulties they may be having; whether they are thinking of changing suppliers; or when they need your help even more than you are currently offering?
- listen to your competitors too – perhaps by undertaking a secret shop or something similar. How do they do things, are they offering something you are not or are they struggling too?
The more you listen the more you will ultimately learn and data is key.
Always make your decisions based on real data rather than gut feelings and hunches. For example, see how your website is converting customer traffic into sales rather than believing it is working perfectly fine. If you are losing customers because their online experience is poor, then improve your website before you lose any more. Elsewhere, if you claim to have a better product than a competitor make sure you can back up that claim. Data doesn’t allow you to have false hope, it simply tells you what is really happening.
Don’t forget, even though data and active listening can be great tools, you have to use them to your benefit. You still have to make decisions and act!
We’ve highlighted the need to listen. Talking though isn’t redundant. In tough times, many seek to “save” some of the money going out through the cutting of their marketing budget. This may seem the intuitive thing to do, but it might be completely wrong. Why is anyone going to buy a product or use a service if they do not know about it? Ensure that your marketing covers both your existing client base as well as aiming to secure many more new clients – you need to continue to service the former as well as you have been, whilst winning the latter. Any slip ups and your competition will be waiting to pounce – customers can be fickle at times, but at the end of the day they are only acting in their own best interests – just like you.
Always be honest with yourself and your business partners. Look at past and current strategies and identify which of those have worked and which have failed. Keep the ones that have worked well, tweak the ones that need a little help and do not be too proud to ditch what has flopped. Being honest with yourself is a key component in taking positive action. Never be too proud to admit failure, indeed the more you have failed indicates the more ideas you’ve been willing to try. The more you try, the more likely one will work. The best businesses have struggled at times on this philosophy – they never accept a “no”.
Owning and running a business is in itself a risk. You do however need to identify all of the risks and eliminate or manage them. Of course bigger risks often bring bigger rewards, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to be flippant about taking chances. Use data again to manage and minimise risk and your experience (and that of others) to make decisions on risk itself.
Do not, for example, be too reliant on one element of the business to the detriment of others, for if that fails then the whole business fails. You can create and manage a demand for your business and services and there is nothing wrong with ambition, it just has to be tempered at times based on the current environment.
It will rain
You have to face facts that one day it will rain – tough times will come. If you’ve benefitted through prosperous times then you should already be prepared to hunker down for the storm. Remember to save for that inevitable downpour, you’ll always be grateful that you did.
At the end of the day, where is the fun in knowing what will happen? Surely nobody wants to live out a preordained “script”. It would be boring and of course predictable. Of course it would eliminate the stress and worry of wondering what’s around the corner, but overall it is unlikely to be the choice of the majority. Life is an adventure and owning and running a business is a real challenge. It is how you cope with those challenges that determines where the adventure will lead you at the end of the day. Your ultimate destiny however lies in your own hands, you just need to listen, learn and take the appropriate action.