This is such an exciting topic for me as it means we can change and reinvent how we do things all the time. I attended a meeting of the minds recently when I attended a training session with my friend and fellow entrepreneur Lisa Illingworth. She is going to be the next big thing in teaching children and young adults to adapt to the ever changing landscape of business in South Africa and maybe the world.
She has recently launched a program called “Future Proof SA” which will guide the young students into becoming our next generation of small business leaders.
Some borrowed ideas to help you cope.
10 STEPS TO FUTURE-PROOF YOUR BUSINESS
No matter how successful your business is currently, you can’t anticipate every hurdle that may arise. Your best bet is to prepare, as far as possible, for the future by putting all the necessary checks in place.
Here are 10 steps to help you on your way.
This refers to both physical and online security. You don’t want all your capital lost with a break-in so make sure you have the right security features in place and insurance as back-up. With regards to your data, make sure you have all the required security systems to prevent loss of vital information through viruses, hacking or an ill-timed computer crash. And ensure all information is backed up for future use.
- Correct telecommunications systems
Despite the increase in communication avenues, the telephone is still the primary form of business communication. The simplest way to promote a professional image with telecommunications while ensuring no customer is left cut off and incapable of reaching you is the use of Hosted PBX systems. This user-friendly telecommunications’ device has several features such as voicemail, directories and mobile capacity, all of which are set to remain in constant need in the business world. Make sure to speak to the right telecommunications partner for a solution that suits your business and pocket.
- Start a business blog
Setting up a website is essential for business success these days but that isn’t enough. In order to constantly direct new customers to your site, a business blog with user-friendly content, posted on a regular basis, is also a vital tool. Make sure there are no errors and the content is relevant as this is a direct reflection on your company.
Read more about telecommunications trends for 2017.
- Follow marketing trends
Where placing an advert in the newspaper used to be sufficient as a business marketing tool, the way to market your business has changed rapidly the past two decades. Although there is still a place for newspaper advertising, your presence online is imperative for a more widespread reach, particularly to a younger market. Depending on your business, there are various marketing options from lanyards and wristbands to car decals and skywriting. You just need to find what will work for you.
- Learn your industry
In addition to following marketing trends, you need to keep in touch with everything that is happening in your industry. Is there new technology on the market? Are certain brands selling better than others? You need to be on top of this otherwise you will quickly get overtaken by more insightful business owners.
- Use new technology
Learning new software can be somewhat daunting but if it means saving you time, as well as the smoother running of your business, then invest. And, these days, there is an app for everything. Use this technology to your advantage as it’s designed to make life easier.
- Create an employee handbook
It’s difficult to enforce policies on people who have been working at an organisation for some time, it’s much easier to instill company guidelines from the get-go. Take some time to outline your organisation’s policies – making sure they’re in line with all necessary laws – and ensure give every staff member a copy.
- Update your business plan
Every start-up needs a business plan but this will quickly become outdated. Review your business plan on a regular basis and make amendments where necessary while staying true to your original vision. This will assist your business growth while also satisfying investors and clients.
- Employee and self-growth
There is always room for improvement so ensure you, and relevant staff members, are constantly learning new skills through training courses and programmes. Nobody wants to join an organisation and stagnate, so keep challenging your workforce – and yourself – to keep ahead of the game.
- Create a work culture
Decide exactly what sort of company culture you want at your business because if this isn’t outlined at first, the culture will naturally evolve and might not be what you envisioned. Do you want a structured environment or a more casual workplace? Whatever culture you opt for, it’s likely that like-minded individuals will be attracted to your organisation.
These 10 tips to prepare your business for the future are brought to you by ECN. ECN is a leading telecommunications partner in South Africa. ECN offers a broad set of cost effective voice, data and hosted services to meet our customers ever growing technological needs. Our market leading voice solutions provide our customers with the option of replacing their existing voice service provider to substantially reduce their monthly telecommunications bill. Contact ECN today for leading telecommunications solutions.
Now you have the basics in getting your company on its way to being a technical marvel coping with the ever changing way we do business. There is one aspect we seem to ignore more and more when it comes to thinking about the end user (customer) in our business.
We need to look back only 40 years to see how this has changed from a culture of people who behaved responsibly and took their own behavior seriously enough that we didn’t need a warning label on a coffee cup to inform us that the contents may be hot and can scaled you should you mess it on your self or someone else.
We need to make sure when we look at adapting our business plan for the customer that we include some little things in the company policies and procedures (employee handbook).
I can think of several things that come to mind in my own company the last few years. We have to verbally tell our clients that even though we take every precaution to safeguard there belongings that they must insure their storage units them selves as we have no idea of the contents. They still try hold us responsible for their “Rolex” watch that went missing and their $50 000.00 rings that went missing from their unit. His wife also had access to the unit and went missing for a long period of time but hey.
We have to remind people that to store high value items in a storage unit is foolhardy even when written in the lease agreement that they sign they have read and understand. I am in no way saying people are unintelligent in any way at all. We have the consumer protection act to save people from their own selves. I think its a good thing when I watch www.youtube.com and see what people get up to.
We also have the National Credit act to stop people from getting into debt and then we must help them fix it at our cost when they go under debt review.
This brings me to my next point in future proofing your business when it comes to the end user (customer) It is blatantly obvious that we must help them remember their responsibilities when it comes to paying on time and avoiding penalties for their own lack of action. We as business owners, people and trainers of our customers, must remember that we have to nurture our customers as they have access to a whole world of service providers.
In the past our customers had limited access to the world wide market as the internet did not exist. Business owners had the attitude of “take it or leave it”. We all know now that we cannot do this. It would serve us all to remember that customer is king and the the old adage “CARE” customers are really everything. Still applies in this hurried world of digital online and impersonal interaction.
We must take that time we have created by installing systems and mechanization to speed up and simplify everything to serve our customers to the best of our abilities. This will ensure that the little contact we have with customers is used wisely in order for them to have an exceptional experience with our company or even with us an individual human.
Until next time
Anthony McHenry from Cedar Storage