Things change quickly in the business world, even in the oldest and most consistent industries. One new technology or one radically different trend is all it takes to completely change your business’s conditions.
So how do you “future proof” your business, so it can remain stable in the face of change?
Adopt Universal Standards
Universal standards like VMRS coding can be a valuable upgrade if you haven’t relied on them in the past. While universal standards are going to change in the future, or be replaced by other, newer standards, conforming to the rest of your industry on a given topic is usually a smart move for the future. Universal standards are universal for a reason.
Diversify Your Business Strategies
One of the most important things you can do for your business is diversify your strategies, and there are a number of ways you can achieve this. It’s perhaps best to understand this through the lens of portfolio diversification, which is an important topic in the realm of investing. Diversifying your portfolio is a way of balancing risk and minimizing your potential losses; investors choose different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate to make up their portfolio. Within those categories, they also diversify their holdings, choosing a mix of big and small companies or companies from different industries.
In your business, you can diversify your strategies by offering different types of products and services, serving different audience segments, operating in different states (or even in different countries), and even doing some investing. This way, if there is a disruptive shift in any given area, you’ll have other areas you can fall back on.
Optimize for the Long Term
In all your business decisions, it’s a good idea to optimize for the long term. Obviously, you’ll need to continue worrying about cash flow and making sure that you can make it to next week, but if you have any wiggle room, try to look ahead years, if not decades into the future. This has been a guiding strategy for many large tech companies, including Amazon, which sacrificed profitability to invest in itself and continue growing.
Observe Your Competition (and Don’t Let Them Outdo You)
Arguably the biggest threat to the future of your business is your competition. If the rivals figure out which may your market share or if they come up with a new innovation that you literally can’t compete with, your business is sunk. Don’t let this happen. It’s important to observe your competition and study them on a regular basis; pay attention to the strategies they’re using, the technologies they’re developing, and how they’re treating their customers. If you notice a threat, you should have ample time to respond to it.
Stay on Top of New Technologies
In line with this, stay on top of new technology as it emerges. Technology evolves quickly and if you don’t keep up, you could end up using legacy systems while your competitors run circles around you and your customers end up disappointed. That doesn’t mean you should upgrade every new technology the moment it becomes available, but it does mean you need to stay plugged in to the latest tech news and be willing to adapt when more efficient systems arrive.
Listen to Your Customers
If you’re falling behind or if the future of your business is threatened, it shouldn’t be a mystery to you. Orchestrate customer surveys regularly to stay in tune with what your customers are thinking and feeling. Pay attention to their suggestions and be willing to adapt to serve them better. Your customers are the foundation of your business.
Keep Your Business Agile
Nobody knows what the future holds, so the best future proofing strategy is to remain agile and adaptable.
- Decentralize decision making. The more bureaucratic and complicated your business is, the slower it’s going to be to adapt to anything. Decentralize your decision making to allow decisions and more adaptability.
- Avoid long-term commitments. When possible, avoid getting locked into long term contracts that restrict your movement. It’s better to remain flexible in most situations.
- Incentivize new ideas and innovation. Each of your employees should have an entrepreneurial mindset, coming up with new ideas and seeing the world in new and inventive ways. And new ideas with rewards for your most creative thinkers.
- Listen to employee feedback. Just as you should listen to your customers, you should listen to your employees.
Future proofing is a complex topic, and not one that can be reduced to a simple, straightforward article. If you want to maximize your future proofing efforts, and keep your business as adaptable as possible, it’s on you to analyze your industry’s trajectory, study the competition, and stay on top of the latest changes that affect your place in the business world.