You might think you have more pressing issues to deal with, but looking further ahead can give you great insight into what you should be doing in the immediate future, leading to greater returns for years to come. Here are five questions you should be asking yourself about the future of your business:
(1) How will your networks’ needs change?
Every industry and every business is affected by internal and external influences, from the rise in connectivity to the compression of time. From your prospects and their customers, to your suppliers and distributors, you should always be seeking to understand the changing business issues everyone around you faces and is likely to face in the future.
Not only will you be able to improve your offering to your customers, you’ll be able to identify how these changes might open up new opportunities for you as well as overhaul your business model when needed to deflect any downward trends. For example, with the growth of online shopping and more convenient delivery and collection services, smaller businesses have been able to compete with the bigger brands in getting their products to consumers. Partnering up with a click, collect and return parcel courier service could open up your business to a whole new market.
(2) Are we creating solutions to tomorrow’s problems?
The problem with many businesses is that they spend so much time focusing on addressing today’s problems that they’re completely unprepared when trends shift. So avoid getting left behind by figuring out what problems your customers are going to face in the future and putting those solutions on today’s drawing board. And make someone in your organisation responsible for trend-tracking and forecasting and make use of prospect focus groups and other market research based feedback mechanisms.
(3) Has the market changed since we entered it?
Before you started your company, you will have taken the time to understand the industry you were entering – its size, attractiveness and profit potential – along with the needs and demands that your business could meet.
But every market changes as competitors change and your customer needs evolve.
Take a look around you – who are the big players now? Is the need you once met still there, or are there new problems and opportunities to be tackled? Consider updating your mission or vision statement, looking at how your business satisfies the need in the market as it is today. And if necessary, rethink how your company differentiates itself. If needed, change your business model to regain or reinforce your competitive advantage within the market.
(4) Are we doing what we need to attract and retain the best talent?
With the days of working for one company your entire career long gone, recruitment and training has become one of the largest costs for many businesses today. You may think that staff churn at entry level is acceptable, but it affects your company’s ability to flourish in the long-term. When knowledgeable managers are continually spending time training new members of the team.
Good quality managers and experts are becoming increasingly hard to come by, so competition for talent is fierce. Luckily, there is plenty your organisation can be doing to attract the brightest and the best. To make sure the best candidates get to hear about your vacancies make use of multiple recruitment agencies and job boards.
Making good hiring choices from the start is a must; having to pick the best of a bad bunch means you’re failing to attract good enough candidates and often this comes down to the same reasons why it is that you lose talented people to competitors or their own ventures.
Try looking at what your most successful competitors are doing. You might discover common denominators such as cultural attitudes towards work-life balance, or a different approach to your industry which you might want to consider emulating. Whilst you might not have budgeted for staff turnover or extra help at the beginning of the financial year, investment in attaining great staff is key for a profitable business. If cash flow is stopping you from finding the best people, or if you think that credit is unavailable to you because your financial track record led to a rejected application, consider utilising a loan for bad credit so that your past doesn’t hinder your future.
(5) What is the purpose of our organisation?
Uncovering the purpose behind your company can help you unlock all kinds of insight. If your business is simply about increasing shareholder wealth your people will see through it. They’ll be left uninspired and will only come to work to clock in their hours and collect their monthly pay slip putting in the bare minimum until they inevitably leave. You can do better than that. Ask yourself what drives you and your employees to do what you do, what inspires you and what you hope to achieve in the long run, personally and professionally.
From being the best at what you do and providing top training and career development, to delivering outstanding customer service and even making a positive impact in your community, your underlying ethos will drive the team behind your brand and in turn this will shine through to your customers.
Rob Straath of is CEO of Liberis.
When did our workspaces turn into playgrounds? Google’s Zurich HQ has a slide, while LinkedIn’s office is stocked with drums and guitars – but such perks may not be things staff will want in the future office.