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What To Watch For In Business

31st October 2017

However your business is currently performing, there are some important factors to be on the lookout for over the coming twelve months.  Looking in the rear view mirror (at past data and performance) is not enough, obviously, but looking forward only at the most basic of factors is not enough either.  

Consider watching some of the following:

    1. Changes in attitude and behaviours of key people within your business, including equity partners.  A myriad of factors can cause these to change … personal circumstances, getting older, health, mid life factors or personal reviews,  boredom or just wanting change.  This is simply an acknowledgement that people change and that can have a positive or negative impact on the way they go about performing their roles.  If it is an equity partner and if the changes are negative then that is clearly very significant.  The point is that these changes have to be noticed, acknowledged and dealt with effectively.
    2. Pending or possible exits of people and how they may pan out.  Some exits of people are relatively easy to handle and go smoothly but some go far less well, even the ones that are known to be upcoming.  It is important to work to the possibility that some undeclared or unplanned exits may occur, and therefore to be watchful and ready.  Even those you consider won’t challenge the person nor the business sometimes cause unexpected problems.  So, it’s important to ready the business for planned and unexpected exits.
    3. Where is significant money being made in business, in Australia and across the world, and where is it being lost?  Being aware of these trends is often a pointer to the coming twelve months and beyond.  This clearly requires a business not to be wedded to what it currently does.  That type of thinking restricts or stops flexibility.  Nothing is impossible and no business has to continue doing (only) what it currently does.
    4. What will happen with online purchasing, not just in your industry but in any other industry or business that can affect your business?  It is not just a matter of predicting where online purchasing will go that will directly impact your business but also anywhere else that could cause negative impacts for your business or open up opportunities.
    5. What are your key competitors starting to do or may do?  This means you have to be aware of their actions, as early as possible … not to emulate them nor to keep up, but to outperform them.  It may mean that if they turn left you need to turn right.
    6. What competitors might spring up and how might they going about it?  This is especially important if they initiate new approaches.  That could damage your business if you become aware too late.
    7. Personal privacy and security .. how could this changing arena impact your business?  This is now one of the most talked about aspects of our lives .. how safe we are, how we guard our private information and how we manage intrusion into our lives.  This is affecting business opportunities, negatively and positively, so watch and predict what could happen, and make the most of it all for your business.  This may require many businesses to think outside the square.
    8. Your own likely changes, whatever that could mean.  There aren’t many years in someone’s life where change doesn’t occur, so what might you need to do professionally (and personally) to manage these well?
    9. Economic conditions that can affect your business.  Interest rates, ease of obtaining finance, jobs growth, unemployment, $A, inflation, economic growth, external trade, wages growth, etc.  What is likely to happen on any of these fronts that you may need to act on and how?
    10. Impending or likely government legislation that can impact your business.  This is one of the most difficult because it is largely out of your control but significant changes in legislation can sometimes be predicted well before they occur.  Important issues such as climate change, energy conservation, social equality, security of the country, personal safety, road congestion, the environment, communication and education, tend to bubble along before governments take significant action.  This can provide opportunities for businesses with foresight.
    11. How will training and development change and how can you make the most of that for your business, with respect to both content as well as methodology?  Online is rapidly growing in importance for many forms of training and development, so how can you make that benefit your business?
    12. What new ‘things’/gadgets/devices will impact your business?  3D masks, drones, robots, smartphone developments, etc. are already having an impact on businesses, so what are the threats and opportunities for your business in this regard?
    13. What technology advances are on the horizon?  This can be a particularly difficult one for privately owned businesses who may not have a high level internal technological capability but it is one of the most important areas of business success today.  Technology creates efficiencies, shores up systems, automates processes, changes products, creates new products, etc. so, it is imperative to find ways to have ongoing awareness in this field.
    14. What developments will occur in the field of digital marketing?  To say that marketing has changed is an understatement.  What used to be about advertisements is now about SEO, google adwords, social media, EDM’s, re-targetting, artificial intelligence, big data, etc.  It is all changing so fast that it is difficult even for large businesses to keep up with and foresee what is next that could impact them.  Consistent and close contact with digital marketing experts is imperative.

There are some ways to help predict the next twelve months and to take advantage of it all:

  1. Be formally in touch with experts in key fields, e.g. technology, digital marketing.
  2. Ensure you are getting frequent feeds from solid information sources.
  3. Establish regular contact with others in business, especially those who are more on the creative, entrepreneurial and innovative side.

It is staggering to consider how recent the following developments were and the impact they have all had on businesses around the world:  

  • Email commenced in 1978
  • The origins of online shopping commenced in 1979
  • The internet commenced in 1991
  • The first smartphone came into existence in 1992
  • Google was founded in 1998
  • Facebook was founded in 2004

Would you agree that drones, driverless cars, virtual experiences, automated homes and robots will become the norm?  Businesses benefit from predicting the future and others suffer from not doing that.  What will you watch and predict for the coming twelve months?  Watch, listen, read, perceive … think, predict, consider, evaluate …. think again, reconsider … decide, prepare, take risks.