Cast your mind back to 2019. No one could have possibly predicted what the next few years would have in store and how much businesses would have to adapt in order to survive. It’s impossible to know what's around the corner but there are steps you can take to ensure you’re ready – no matter what the future throws at you.
Here’s how to future proof your business.
Why future proofing is so important
We can’t predict economic downturns, market adjustments or even natural disasters. However, we can prepare for them. Future proofing is an essential exercise that shifts your business mentality from reactive to one that’s more proactive.
Even in the most difficult of situations, the faster you can adapt and overcome obstacles, the better suited you are in both the short and long-term. It’s a chance to get the edge over your industry rivals and turn a problem into an opportunity.
How to future proof
Here are just some of the things your business can do to ensure it’s ready for anything. The more of these you do, the better suited you are for the future.1. Diversify your portfolio
Avoid having all your eggs in one basket. If you depend on one part of your business entirely for success, then you might be at risk.
Most businesses gain initial success through a popular product or service. The temptation can be to focus solely on what’s working for you right now and invest all of your time, energy and resources in that one part of your business.
It’s vital you diversify your business offering so that if one area begins to suffer, you have another to turn to. This can be through another type of product or by entering a completely different market when you have the capacity to do so.2. Run drills and scenarios
Fire drills let us know what we should do in the case of an emergency. You should apply the same thinking to your business. What could happen today, tomorrow or a year from now that could cause serious harm?
There could be a fire at the office, the business might come under a serious cyberattack or a global event like the pandemic could have far-reaching implications. Consider each possible scenario and identify the risk you might be at. What can you do now to ensure you’re prepared?
Ensure important business data is backed up in multiple locations (both physical and in the cloud) and implement robust cybersecurity measures that can protect you from the latest types of attack. Some risks might feel incredibly unlikely, but you might just find in the future that you’re glad you took steps ahead of time to protect your business.3. Switch to scalable tech
Technology moves at a rapid pace and today’s consumers are more digital savvy than ever before. They have certain expectations that they’ll expect you to meet. Take the payment process online, for example. Do you offer fast and secure payment options like Apple Pay? It’s something that many customers are used to, and your competition might already have it in place.
If you’re using outdated technology and systems that have since been replaced by faster and newer alternatives, then you’re at risk of falling behind the curve.
Even if you feel like you’re using state-of-the-art technology, it’s important to look ahead. Take the BT Switch Off in 2025. In the UK, BT are switching all customers from the old analogue public switched telephone network (PSTN) to a fully digital network. Has your business made the switch?4. Communicate with customers
The easiest way to identify what customers want, both now and in the future, is by asking them. A simple mistake many businesses make is spending too much time looking inwardly. While they’re developing new products and analysing sales data, they’re forgetting to actually invest time with their main stakeholder – the customers.
Consider how you currently track customer behaviour and what you’re doing with that information. Are there any patterns emerging that would indicate that preferences are changing? Even the slightest change in behaviour could indicate a wider trend that could impact your business in a big way.
Do you regularly speak to your customers? It sounds odd to say but how often do you actually collate feedback? Simple questionnaires can offer useful insight into how your most loyal shoppers are feeling.5. Keep your finger on the pulse
How up to date are you on the latest business trends in your industry? Do you know why the biggest players are succeeding or why that rival of yours went out of business? What are others doing that you aren’t?
It’s useful to look at industries adjacent to your own to see what’s going on. They could provide a unique look at what’s just around the corner for you.
Go to social media and find where your customers are. What are they talking about? What’s their biggest complaint? It’s never been easier to discover exactly how a customer is feeling thanks to Twitter, Instagram and TikTok – you just have to go out there and listen.
If the BT Switch Off is news to you and you may need to start thinking about a new cloud-based phone system alternative, then we have you covered. Start a free trial now and see how CircleLoop can support your business with whatever's next around the corner.