Future proofing is an idea that will help you anticipate and prepare for the prospects of several aspects of your business. Owners and entrepreneurs can future-proof their business entities through the development of systems that can assist them in minimising the stress and shock that businesses experience due to disruption or change.

All businesses are different from one another in various aspects, so the approach you take to future-proof your business will differ also. However, keep these key points in mind as you endeavour to future-proof your business for a better future.

Use the Right Technology

Technology is one of the key building blocks for any contemporary business. However, not all businesses have the luxury of constantly upgrading the greatest and most recent models of each software or device available on the market. This is the reason you should be cautious about the items you purchase and decide which items are not worth spending money on. To help determine this, consider which items you require in the long run from the business perspective. As an example, consider items like processor, memory and video cards, which are computer related.

With respect to this equipment, technology changes so rapidly and quickly that future proofing it may be unrealistic. Instead, a viable idea is to purchase the best hardware you can afford at that time and upgrade when required. However, in terms of data storage and software, consider using cloud services. When you purchase these services, you get the option to make regular updates in exchange for a monthly fee. This is one way of future proofing your company. Through this, you get up to date features without spending a substantial sum of money on upgrades.

Develop Flexible Offerings

Future proofing not only applies to your tech gadgets; it is equally applicable to your actual offerings. For instance, if your sole offering is a mobile app that is currently trendy, you are likely to be quite satisfied with your company’s performance indicators in the short run. However, consider what can potentially happen when these mobile users with deviously short attention span switch to the next fad.

Therefore, it is an excellent idea for companies to diversify their product offerings, or at a minimum develop something that can be modified with ease with the change in consumer trends and preferences. Future proofing here can mean developing and offering multiple apps instead of one. You can even contemplate creating separate sources of revenue, such as an ecommerce site for your service or product.  

Reassess Your Business

Don’t wait until your sales plummet, to consider making changes to the business. It is highly recommended that you constantly monitor sales figures and important analytics. This can assist you in spotting any indicators that may suggest that a change is needed. This helps you in making gradual and proactive adjustments rather than being reactive. This makes your team less prone to error as they have ample time to come up with a decent plan.

For example, if sales of a certain product start slipping, it is advisable to dig deeper and conduct a thorough analysis of the reasons or run a consumer survey to pinpoint the reason for the decline. The reason could simply be a confusing or bad user experience on the website. Spotting it early will go a long way in future-proofing your offerings through improving your website and staying alert to how sales change after you make certain improvements.

Bring Out the Best in Your Employees

Employees can play a big role in the success of a company moving ahead. Make sure to optimise their performance levels. To ensure that the staff is intensely engaged at work, think about challenging them. You can make changes to their tasks and duties occasionally, seek their input with respect to processes and strategies or ensure their participation via incentives and contests. Great service can be encouraged by holding a contest where you reward employees who have the best ratings in terms of customer reviews. This will prompt your staff to deliver the best they possibly can.  

Evaluate Your Market for Possible Negative Effects

The variables that can affect your company in the future do not only stem from within. It is vital to monitor external factors like competition and market situation. Make it a habit to read trade related publications, market reports and blogs so that you stay up to date with any information that may influence your business.

Suppose that you operate an e-commerce entity, which has clung to the same business model for years. Then you learn about social selling and its gaining esteem and popularity, you may incorporate it into your business model as well. Capitalise on new and upcoming trends early or adjust your policy so that you don’t rely on outdated offerings. This way, you have a chance at attaining sustained success.

Listen to Customers

Your customers are a reservoir of information and can shape the future of the company. However, unless you inquire about their opinions, you are unlikely to get useful insights. It is a good idea to survey your customers regularly. Their answers and feedback can future-proof your company. You can send them questionnaires via email after they purchase your product. You can also conduct a detailed annual survey.  

When carrying out these surveys, keep in mind the specific areas that you want to learn about. For example, most of your questions could be targeted toward customer service if this is an area where you lack more. Nevertheless, do not forget to devote a section for comments of a general nature so your customers can call your attention to other areas of your business.

Focus on Problem Solving

You will make several changes to your business over a period of time, but one thing will remain the same no matter what. This is the fact that the services or products you sell solve your customer’s problems.

When you are caught up with other complex aspects of operating a business, it is easy to stray away from this basic principle. Therefore, whether your business is about helping people find the best online deals or developing software for a specific need, don’t lose track of your main objective which is focusing on what consumers expect from you. This will help your business succeed in the long run.    

Whenever you consider making a change in your business, ask yourself if it will solve your customer’s problem. In case the answer is in the negative, don’t bother.

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Martin Martinez
CEO at TheBoardroom.com
P: 1800 08 44 88
E: martin@theboardroom.com