No one can say with certainty what the future of business holds—except that change remains a constant. And because marketplace conditions are always in flux, it’s vital that business leaders keep a close eye on future trends and predictions. Being prepared for different eventualities is a lot better than merely hoping to keep up with change.
Here are tips on action steps to help future-proof your business:
Search for and pinpoint risk.
No matter how financially secure a business may be, risks and threats loom around the corner. One example of business risk is an over-reliance on making or selling one or two products or services. Cyber-attacks are another ever-present risk. Then there’s the possibility a business may neglect its regulatory requirements and face exorbitant penalties or product recalls.
Brainstorm possible scenarios. Find solutions that can address potential operational issues.
Be ready to pivot.
Changing times demand a nimble response. The decision for a business to pivot may depend on key red flags:
- An unforeseen rise in customer complaints and negative feedback
- Appearance of new and/or more aggressive competitors
- Price under-cutting by the competition
Once you determine precisely why your business needs to pivot, put together a contingency plan that also preserves those functions and processes that still work. As we’ve noted before, “seeking the insights of your peers is a proven way to gain a broader perspective of the big picture,” and there’s no better way than exploring membership in TAB.
Heed increased customer requests for privacy.
Customers already sensitive to company data leaks and breaches will likely be more demanding in the future when it comes to safeguarding their personal information. Depending on how much data (and what kind) your business needs to get from customers, think about new ways to obtain it while keeping customers assured their information is protected.
One suggestion, from Fast Company, focuses on incentives: “Companies should be prepared to offer some sort of payment or rewards to consumers who offer up information to them or, alternatively, a breakthrough service in exchange for customer data.”
Pay closer attention to what customers are telling you.
Planning for the future must include methods for gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs and preferences. As times and marketplace conditions change, your customers will, if asked, share their responses, positive or negative, to what your business has to offer. Listening closely will prove very helpful in future-proofing your business.
“Customers can also provide an early warning system should your offerings come up short in comparison to others on the market,” notes Cincinnati Business Courier.
Prepare supply chain contingency plans.
As the pandemic and other global events have shown us, the supply chain for virtually all businesses is very fragile. Obviously, businesses depend upon a seamless and dependable method of replenishing inventory, fulfillment of new orders, and maintaining a reliable stream of product materials. When any kind of supply-chain disruption occurs, the effects are often negative and potentially very damaging.
One supply chain strategy involves “nearshoring”—that is, “the practice of outsourcing manufacturing to a nearby country,” notes SupplyChainBrain. With sourcing that’s closer to home, “companies can take advantage of lower labor and product costs, while benefiting from reduced transit times, improved oversight, and easier communications with suppliers.”
Predicting the future of business is far from foolproof, but devising solutions to potential problems are key to a company’s survival. Prepare for changes. We all know for sure that change is coming.
Want to learn more? Watch our free TAB Boss Webinar, “Navigating the Future: Harnessing AI and Automation for Business Success.”