Would your small business withstand significant disruption? Whether it’s another Covid-19 lockdown, a natural disaster, or a brand new competitor, there’s going to be something in your future that causes challenges.
Future-proofing your small business means anticipating future events and making sure your business is resilient. You might not know exactly what will happen or when precisely it will happen … but you can likely predict certain threats or problems that might well come up.
Even if the negative events you’re preparing for do not occur, the work you do to future-proof your small business will make your business stronger and more successful.
Here are 9 key things you can do to keep your business afloat:
Develop an Action Plan
First, it’s important to decide what you need to do in order to future-proof your business. Figure out your end goal, and then work backward to create a checklist of tasks or steps that you’ll need to accomplish. This is your action plan.
You’ll want to think about the resources you’ll need at each step, and who will be in charge of carrying that step out. Plus, you should set deadlines or milestones for each stage of your plan.
Ensure Your Business Finances are Digital
Let’s face it, if you’re keeping financial records on paper, your business is unlikely to be ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Make sure that your business finances are handled digitally: that way, you’re not going to risk losing crucial records in a fire or flood.
Digital finance tools can also save a huge amount of time (and money) on bookkeeping activities, plus they can reduce human error. You want to automate as much as possible, rather than having someone manually keeping track of every payment received and invoice sent out.
Improve Customer Engagement By Making Emotional Connections
In today’s world, customers won’t be loyal to a business unless they feel an emotional connection. Many customers will simply seek out the cheapest deal or best reviews – regardless of the brand name.
To keep your customers engaged and to win repeat business, you need to connect on an emotional level. You could:
- Develop your company’s brand so it appeals more to your ideal customers.
- Empower customer support staff to go the extra mile in offering amazing service.
- Have a sense of humor and personality in your communications.
- Create a customer loyalty program to offer rewards.
- Underpromise and overdeliver to delight your customers.
Stay Up to Date With Business Trends and Current Events
If you’re going to survive a fast-paced future, you need to keep up. This means spending some regular time looking at the latest business trends, including potential opportunities and threats to your business.
It also means being aware of how current events might impact your business. Almost every business in the world has been impacted by the Covid pandemic, for instance – some severely. Even relatively small-scale local events could have an impact.
Consider Switching to a Four-Day Week
More companies (and even countries) are experimenting with a four-day week. You might think that cutting each person’s working hours from 40 to 32 would spell disaster for your business – but you may be surprised how productive staff members are during a shorter working week.
Offering a four-day week is still unusual enough that your company will stand out against your competitors, letting you attract the best possible talent. A four-day week also allows employees more personal time, meaning they’ll be more engaged and enthusiastic about their work, and less likely to suffer burnout.
Diversify Your Products and/or Services
Do you offer one flagship product or service to your customers? While this can seem like a great way to excel, it can also be dangerous. If a competitor undercuts you, then your business could all but vanish overnight. Plus, once customers have bought one thing from you, there might be nothing else for them to purchase.
A great way to future-proof your business is to diversify. Look for other complementary products and services you could offer that would fit well with what you already have. For instance, if you currently offer web design services, you might also offer an ongoing support package.
Invest in Business Insurance
Do you have adequate insurance for your small business? While you likely have the basics in place, such as workers’ compensation coverage, you might not have considered some other important types of insurance.
Business insurance can cover you against all sorts of threats, including natural disasters. It can also cover potential business disasters like data breaches or cyber-attacks. Relying on insurance for your small business means that you can have some peace of mind, knowing that if your company gets sued or something unexpected occurs, your business won’t go bankrupt paying for the costs involved.
Enhance Your Online Presence (Website and Social Media)
Customers have an incredible amount of information and a huge range of options at their fingertips. Often, a new customer will simply pick whatever solution is at the top of their Google search. This means that having a strong online presence is vital for every small business.
Investing in a high-quality website and good search engine optimization (SEO) is likely to reap huge dividends for your business. Even small steps to enhance your online presence, like avoiding common social media mistakes, can make a big difference in our always-online world.
Get More Referrals and Testimonials From Your Customers
If each of your customers eagerly refers a friend who goes ahead and buys from you, then you’ll have doubled your revenue. Plus, having customer testimonials on your website or social media pages can easily sway a prospective customer into purchasing.
To get more referrals and testimonials, all you need to do is ask. Many customers will be delighted to provide these, especially if they had an outstanding experience with your company. You might develop procedures for automatically asking for a review or testimonial after support interactions, for instance, or you might send all customers a feedback form a few days after they make a purchase.
Is your small business ready for the future? Just follow the future-proofing tips above, and you’ll be in great shape to face whatever the next few years bring.