Think back to early 2020. You probably pictured the upcoming year playing out differently for your business. Plans for new projects and new technology were suddenly thrown to the wayside as the pandemic hit. Uncertainty and instability from the pandemic shook up everyone’s year. It became difficult to predict what would happen in a month, let alone the next year.
None of us have a crystal ball. Whether it’s a pandemic, a recession, or a natural disaster, most business leaders can’t accurately predict such large shakeups right before they occur. But you can prime your business for the future. The pandemic proved how important it is to stay ahead of the times as much as possible.
Discover why future-proofing your business is a necessity in today’s environment, why some businesses fail, and strategies you can employ to stay ahead of the competition.
What is Future-Proofing?
While we can’t predict the future, we can change how we anticipate it. Future-proofing is the idea of anticipating the future and refining your business methods to minimize stress and uncertainty. Once considered a fixed trait, adaptability is a learned skill. We all had to learn to flex our adaptability muscles at the beginning of the pandemic. Companies that lacked resources or were stuck in their ways sadly didn’t make it. Others faltered in the wake of such adversity.
The idea of planning ahead for your future workplace isn’t just a good idea. Future-proofing is necessary. In the coming years, we may not always be able to predict the next pandemic. But we can predict that your current staff will shift generationally as baby boomers retire. Tasks you perform today will be digitized and possibly automated. The data economy will continue to rise. If your company isn’t ready to take on these challenges yet, now is the time. Your competitors are certainly watching these trends.
Why Do Some Companies Fail to Future-Proof?
The pandemic made it clear that business owners had to learn to sink or swim. Fast. Sadly, 34% of American businesses were still closed a year into the pandemic. While there are many reasons for pandemic-related closures, several are most typical. Discover these common pitfalls:
- Lack of Resources
Future-proofing isn’t cheap. It requires a dedication to problem-solving for the future. If companies lack resources, they won’t be able to compete with their competition. Of course, this means having the money to fund new software and automation. Simultaneously, companies may lack the staff they need to get these changes tested and perfected. Organizations that don’t commit to hiring the right project managers and change management professionals can see their plans crumble in front of their eyes.
- No Desire to Change
Humans are creatures of habit. What worked well for a company in the 1980s may be nostalgic for some CEOs. But antiquated business plans simply won’t work the same way in the modern day. Companies that are no longer innovating have already given up. Business owners should know that change is a constant when it comes to the future. Companies that don’t encourage their staff to embrace that will quickly be left in the dust.
- Unawareness of Problems
Companies that are unaware of their antiquated ways can’t fix it. An acute awareness of the problems the organization faces is necessary to fix them. Future-proofing requires self-awareness. You can’t be flexible and geared towards the future if you let upper management’s ego get in the way. If business owners feel hurt or apathetic towards their problems, they won’t get anywhere. Open communication from staff members can help bring these problems to the forefront of management.
How to Successfully Future-Proof Your Company
Committing to the future is the first step. If your company is dedicated to flexing your adaptability arm and getting to work on your future, there’s no doubt it will be bright. Consider these 5 trends when creating your future-proof plan:
- Improve Your Culture
You have a mission statement and a vision statement, but a great company requires a very distinct culture. Top talent doesn’t want to work for a company with a toxic or even subpar culture. Considering that 73% of employees have left a job due to poor culture, the future of your company relies on fixing yours. A great leader will define the company’s culture, breathe it, and live by it.
The people they hire will emulate that passion and philosophy with their work. Your cultural philosophy might be radical honesty. If it is, model that from the top down. Employees will notice and embrace the difference.
- Go Digital
Technology is ubiquitous and expected in 2022. That isn’t going away. If there are any dated and strenuous processes in your company that can be digitized, it’s time to do it. A Verizon study found that 53% of respondents are comfortable with a fully automated service.
If your website is a few years old, it’s time to update it. Implement chatbots and form submissions to get customers to reply to you digitally. Continue to work with your team to automate processes based on customer feedback.
- Embrace Demographic Shifts
If you’ve led your company for many years, you’ve likely also had many loyal employees. As baby boomers reach retirement age, there will continue to be generational shifts in your organization’s structure. Up to ¼ of Canadian businesses are already feeling the strain of their most senior workers retiring. Instead of letting knowledge walk out with your experienced employees, implement mentorship programs to help your new hires.
You’ll also want to reconsider benefit packages to accommodate an aging workforce while also attracting the future workforce. Strike a balance between keeping your experienced employees happy and recruiting your next all-star employees.
- Listen and Respond to Customers
At the end of the day, consumer demand drives your business. So why wouldn’t you pay careful attention to what your customers want? Invest in seasoned marketers to do comprehensive customer research for your company.
Focus groups, surveys, and emails provide incredible insight into your customer’s psyches. Discover how their needs evolve and shift as you move into the future. Customer insight can produce your next profitable solution.
One excellent service or product likely put your business on the map. But after a certain point, you’ll want to diversify your services to keep them profitable. If you sell products in a store, you can future-proof your business by setting up an e-commerce store as well. Find new innovative ways to diversify your income streams to stay on top of the future.
On a different note, you’ll want to diversify your talent pool too. DEI efforts will bring your company to the next level. More than 3 out of 4 employees want to work for a diverse company. Now is the time to hire for the future.
If you’re looking to hire incredible talent for your future workplace, look no further than Oomple. Our staffing platform connects you to skilled professionals in project management, management, marketing, and much more. Our experienced team will help you support your future-proof strategy with vetted, on-demand professionals. Sign up on Oomple today to get started!