Predicting the future isn’t easy, especially in the business world. Consider how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of labor, the economy, and popular culture all in one fell swoop. With landmark historical events like these cropping up, future-proofing your business might feel next to impossible.
Just because you can’t predict the future doesn’t mean you can’t plan for it, however. Many organizations should take steps to future-proof their technology and infrastructure, as these are common areas where businesses can fall behind the competition. Here are eight tips and tricks to improve your company’s resiliency in the face of time.
Harness the power of intellectual property
As a business owner, your intangible assets are worth as much if not more than the assets you can see and touch. Think about something like your company’s culture, the work ethic of your employees, and your proprietary systems and workflows that make all the difference for your clients. You can’t patent all of these things, but they’re all examples of intangible assets that can make or break an enterprise.
Intellectual property is vital to your business because it can keep your ledgers in the black for years to come if you maintain it properly. For example, if you generate a new product idea, you can corner the market and enjoy a lion’s share of profits for as long as your patent protects your invention (typically a period of at least fifteen years). In addition, patented processes or systems can give your business an edge that no other company can offer to clients.
Robust, well-protect intellectual property can be your company’s income stream in the face of unpredictable changes, making IP an invaluable asset to have in your business’s future-proof toolkit.
The best way to leverage and protect IP to its fullest potential is for company leaders to partner with IP consulting service providers like Dennemeyer. These agencies will help keep your IP on its Ps and Qs for years to come, come what may.
Communicate with your team
When businesses communicate with their employees, they build loyalty and future-proof their companies. Employees want to be involved in decision-making, and they want an active forum when they have ideas that benefit the company.
Set clear expectations, so your team knows what you expect from them. Give team members opportunities to ask questions and provide answers for each other. If you prepare your employees for future shifts regarding technology and business practices, they will help make the transmission smoothly and successfully.
Business leaders need to remain agile and keep an open mind to react well in the face of change. New ideas seem to pop up constantly, but business leaders need to investigate which ideas could become helpful. Ignoring innovation can prove harmful to businesses that want to stay relevant for years to come.
Intelligent business owners think of creative ways to use tech trends to benefit their businesses. For example, the companies that jumped on social media trends capitalized on them, while those that were slow to adapt had to play catch up. Despite billions of people accessing the platforms daily, some companies still haven’t embraced social media.
When businesses remain agile and leaders keep their minds open, they stay relevant and find new ways to build their customer base.
Pay attention to your competition
Your competition is the most significant threat your business faces in the future. Your competitors will make their own efforts to stay ahead of the game. If you cannot compete, then your business will fail.
As you prepare for the future, pay close attention to your competition, especially regarding technology and infrastructure choices. Watch market leaders’ behavior on social media, track changes on their websites, and notice how they communicate with customers.
Keeping track of your competition is part of being a diligent market researcher. Schedule time each week to look at other companies’ websites. Notice how these professionals market to customers and how they recruit employees. Pay attention to the aspects you consider successful, so you can compare popular industry ideas to the ones you have.
Stay up-to-date on security
Another detrimental action is neglecting your cybersecurity practices and falling to your competition. Businesses lose money and customers when they have security breaches, and many fail to recover from the damage to their reputation. Companies must comply with regulations while also trying to stay ahead of the criminals who want access to their data.
Problems arise when companies fall out of compliance. When hackers attack, compliance issues and customer complaints worsen. Management must consider the latest storage technology, like the cloud, but also prepare for the future. Mitigating data and updating security can be time-consuming and dangerous as it opens up the business to attacks.
When it comes to cybersecurity, business leaders need to change their ways of thinking. Today’s digital world means that attempted cyberattacks are a when rather than an if.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
It’s not enough to keep up with the trends. Future-forward industry leaders set the trends. No company can break new ground without taking risks and experimenting with fresh ideas and technology. When you try new things, you’ll learn if they work. If your innovation improves practices, you’ll set the trends, and if they don’t, you move on to the next idea.
Your customers will appreciate that you are looking for ways to stay ahead because you’re doing it all for their continued satisfaction.
Consider how Tesla jumped quickly into the electric-vehicle market, leaving other automakers playing catch up while Tesla is still considered the standard they need to meet. Even if you make mistakes, you’ll learn to do things better next time.
Try to be better every day
Improvement, experimentation, and evaluation shouldn’t be a monthly or annual consideration. Businesses that want to future-proof their operations should look at ways to be better daily.
Consider becoming more efficient at the day-to-day tasks, so they don’t take up as much time. When you streamline and improve mundane activities, you can improve the business by finding more customers, designing new products, and hiring more employees.
Your daily improvements might be minor, but those little steps make a big difference in the long run. Your employees need to contribute ideas about daily advancements as your company works toward functional minimalism and away from clunking old-fashioned systems.
Listen to your customers
Another aspect of future-proofing your business is listening to your customers. Ask your customers questions and send them surveys. Listen to client needs and how they feel about your products and services. When your consumer base offers ideas, pay attention and challenge your employees to implement their suggestions while staying true to your branding and goals.
Future-proofing your business doesn’t have to be a mystery. With thoughtful planning, noticing details, and setting trends, your business can stay ahead of the rest. You can help your business stay successful for years by listening to your customers and employees. Remaining loyal to your brand but experimenting with new technology also helps.