After spending the last two years in an uphill battle with COVID, businesses are finally returning to normal. However, normal looks a lot different than what it looked like in 2019. Everyone has changed the way they work, the way they purchase and the way they sell their products so that they can reach the maximum audience. But is reaching the most amount of people the metric that will change your business? With a new financial year upon us, now is the time to consider how to future-proof your business.
What is future-proofing?
Future-proofing is the evolvement of your business to meet your future demands. It is thinking ahead about how your business will succeed and what challenges may arise. By anticipating these challenges you are able to minimise the shock and potential stress it will place on the business and you are able to improve your customer’s experience.
What can I do to future-proof my small business?
1. Diversify your assets
You might have heard this on Shark Tank, but a business is more than just one product or service. It is also more than your Instagram profile or your brick-and-mortar store. In order to meet future demand, you need to diversify.
Diversification can look like a range of things including launching new products, introducing flexible working situations, or streamlining processes through new technologies, such as integrated POS. The key to successful diversification is to:
- Start Small.
- Listen to your key stakeholders.
By following these two steps you can ensure that there is no major impact to your business and that you are continually improving and growing.
2. Rethink past strategies
One of the most common traps businesses fall into is this “If it’s slow, let’s have a sale.” When you are considering future-proofing your business, evaluate your past strategies and consider if they have been successful recently. This evaluation will provide critical data that will structure your business in the future.
So what if my sales strategy is not working? Well, that is an obvious sign that your business has attracted all that it can through that pathway and now is the perfect time to engage in new ways to attract new customers. Some of the most recent evolvements we have seen include:
- Businesses jumping on TikTok to promote services and team culture
- Individual Zoom Webinars instead of Trade Events
- Updating their technology to connect their online store to their brick and mortar store.
3. Start working on future demands
As your business begins to expand and diversify you should start working on those anticipated trends and develop preliminary strategies. Be creative with your ideas and use your imagination in this stage because those ‘out of the box’ ideas can really pay off.
If you are stuck and don’t know where to begin, you can investigate ways to optimise your current processes and if there is any new technology that might be essential in the future. Then you can follow up by observing your customers’ behaviours and how they interact with new processes and new technology.
Observing and interviewing your customers can be an incredibly valuable step as it provides you with a clear indication of what is working, what is not working, what they like and what they try to steer clear of.
4. Think about the risks
A good way to future-proof your business is by identifying concerns and risks that may present bigger challenges down the road. Ask yourself, your management team and your employees; Where are the gaps in the business? What is a challenge you struggle with right now?
As a business owner, it is important that you watch out for influencing factors and that you don’t become too reliant on a single resource. According to PWC there are four types of risks businesses will face if they fail to future-proof their business they are:
- Human and Organizational Resources
One of the biggest risks we have seen during the pandemic is the decrease in available human resources and the increase in demand and over-reliance on singular human resources. Relying on our employees puts additional stress on them meaning they can burn out quicker and you could be in this constant hiring cycle as people continue to leave. As you grow and future-proof your business, remember to check in with employees and see how you can help and support them.
5. Use data to influence decisions
One of the greatest insights into the performance of your business is through your sales and marketing data. Data is extremely useful in identifying trends, predicting customer behaviour and assisting in sales. While it is best practice to have this all collated onto one dashboard, many businesses have yet to complete this task and are missing vital information that could further their business exponentially. By updating your technology and procedures over a 12-month period you can not only grow your business but prevent your business from being surprised by market trends and better yet prepare for them.
Small things you can do to future-proof your business
While not a new tactic, personalisation is one of the most effective ways to get your customer onside and continue to grow your business and gain insights into customer behaviours. Simply by adding their name to the start of the email or receipt, remembering what they have purchased to provide helpful hints or suggestions for what’s next is a great way to get customers’ support. In short, be obsessed with helping your customers.
Protect your employees: strong work values
By defining company culture and enforcing strong work values you are able to create an environment where employees love coming to work. There is no right or wrong way to instil workplace values but it is important to keep your business objectives, growth plans and employees at front of mind when developing them. In general, employees want structured positions, transparency and an environment that fosters new ideas and creativity.
It is no longer a nicety to have automation as part of your business. If you can automate processes in your business you should. 47% of people feel more positive about a business if they experience some or a fully automated process when purchasing a product or service. By automating processes in your business there is less likelihood of human error and you can also improve productivity in the workplace.
Make sure you are getting the most out of your POS.
Right now, Australian businesses are on the hunt for how they can evolve and one of the ways they will be able to is through integrated Point of Sales. Acumen Computer Systems designs and develops tailored solutions for retail, trade and wholesale businesses. Investing in the right technology can help your business go further than you imagined. If you are looking for a way to future-proof your business give our customer acquisition team a call today!