When you start a business, you do so with the idea that the business will last for decades, possibly even lifetimes.
So how do make sure your business is still around for generations? The key is to future proof your business. It may sound impossible, but it’s a strategy that has kept ambitious businesses around for a hundred years or more.
You may not know right now what the trends will be 20 years from now, but you can take steps to make sure business is ready to adapt, whatever the trend may be at the time.
1. Stay In Contact With Your Customers
This may be the most important step for future proofing a business. You can talk to every analyst you want, but your customers are the ones who tell you what the want and what they’re doing. For instance, businesses may market more on Instagram than Facebook because their target audience started showing support for that network.
Plus, staying in contact keeps you front and centre in customers’ minds. Send out a survey asking for feedback to see how you can continuously improve to meet their needs. Also, evolve how you engage with customers. Phones used to be the best contact method, but email and social media are the kings now. However, live chat is a growing option with 73% of customers preferring it for customer service.
2. Go Beyond What You Currently Offer
It’s easy to get complacent with your current products or services. However, offering something extra keeps your business fresh and more competitive. Look at what the competition is offering. Is there any way to offer something better? For instance, many web design companies are going beyond design and offering things such as content creation. Always look for opportunities to build upon your core products and services.
3. Connect To Your Industry
Even if you built your business all on your own, you don’t have to continue that way. The best way to future proof your business is to stay in contact with industry leaders and innovators. Join professional social networks, such as LinkedIn. Follow the top blogs in the industry. Go to conferences and network with others. You’d be surprised at how much information you’ll receive on trends, customer retention, new markets and more.
Don’t always think of your competition as hands off. You might be in the same industry, but you all want to last. Check out their strategies. Follow them on social media. View their website often. The more connected you are to your own industry, the easier it is to stay current and outlast many other businesses. Currently, the average business lifespan is just 10 years, with global Fortune 500 companies lasting 40-50 years.
4. Look For Innovation Everywhere
Your business is successful right now because of an innovative product or service that’s meeting the needs of your target audience. However, what happens when a new business comes up with something better? To future proof your business, you have to consistently look for innovative ideas. Sometimes, it’s difficult to do on your own because you’re biased to what’s already working.
Talk to employees, industry experts and customers. Look at the world around you. Observe the issues your customers face every day. The next innovative idea that will keep your business thriving decades from now is out there if you just look.
5. Take Smart Risks
No business will last if it’s not willing to take risks. For instance, look at Apple. The company was doing okay, but it wasn’t until it took a risk on a smartphone that it became a true household name. This wasn’t just a risk, but a smart risk. Apple looked at the rising popularity of PDAs and took the risk that people would love to have a combination cell phone and PDA. As it turns out, it paid off.
6. Stay As Relevant As Possible
This is where branding can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If you look at major brands that have outlasted the competition, you’ll notice that their branding has stayed true to company values, but relevant to what’s going on in the world right now. Look at current issues and see if there’s a way to incorporate that into your branding. An ad that’s easy to relate to will keep your brand in customers’ minds far longer. Create regular content that speaks directly to your audience about their wants, needs and challenges they face right now.
Future Proof Your Business Today
Don’t wait until tomorrow to future proof your business. Start today. Consider the six tips above as your strategy to continuously build your business and keep it relevant for future generations.
Ready to get started? See how our branding services can help your business start future proofing today.