As we all stumble out of the year that was 2020, there’s a good chance you’re looking to make some changes to your small business.
Whether these changes are to improve your profitability, strengthen it against competitors or to simply future proof it in the most general sense, we have some fantastic tips for you below — which aren’t too difficult or costly to implement.
We all want our businesses to succeed and to remain strong and profitable for as long as possible, and one way to do this is to ensure you have taken the time to run through all of your future planning processes.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you should work to go through some of these future proofing exercises regardless of how well your business is doing. If you wait until it’s too late, you might not be able to salvage your brand. Though, if you are flying high and under the impression that nothing can slow your business, you run the risk of your business grinding to a halt because of your ego.
All those points in mind, let’s go over a few ways to ensure your small business is future proof.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
To kick off our list, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t ever have all of your eggs in one basket.
What we mean by this is that you need to have profit or at least revenue coming from more than one customer, client or product. If you’re relying on a single client or product to keep your brand afloat, you run the risk of losing everything should that client walk, or should your product be superseded by a competitor’s own version.
That in mind, your first step should be to diversify as soon as possible.
Put in the work to either develop new products for the same target market, or a new market entirely and go from there. With a range of products and services on your books all generating income, you’re at a far lower risk of going out of business should things get a little rocky in the future.
A quick tip here is to take a look at other local businesses or online competitors that have products similar to yours and take a look at what else they sell. There may be a product or a service that works in harmony with what your customers already want, so you can add this to your service or product offering with ease.
Invest in Business Insurance
The chances are that your small business can’t exactly handle a lawsuit or a major issue with the advice you’ve provided to a client.
Of course, the best way to dull the pain and financial losses from a potential lawsuit or anything in a similar vein is investing in business insurance. When you invest in a full-coverage business insurance policy from a trusted insurer you give yourself the peace of mind that you’re covered should anything go wrong.
This may be the motivation or the small boost you need to keep going with your brand, and also to make sure you are able to withstand and recoup after a major setback with a client or customer you may have accidentally harmed or provided incorrect advice to.
Don’t Rely On the Same Customer Retention Strategy
A third big tip we’d like to offer surrounds your customers.
You may have used one particular strategy or marketing plan to capture the attention of all your current customers, however, who is to say that this will work for all of your customers in the future?
That in mind, you absolutely must diversify your outreach and customer retention strategies too.
If you relied heavily on print media for your customer base up until this point, add Search Engine Marketing or Inbound Marketing to the list. In doing this, you’ll be able to rely on a few different customer bases coming to your brand, rather than just the print media readers.
In line with this, the effectiveness of these campaigns and strategies will depend on where you’re located. Some towns, locales or cities have huge print media reader populations, and others have none.
Keeping this noted, understand where your customers are and what media they consume and go from there.
All of your marketing activities in one basket isn’t a good idea either, so diversify here as well.
Work on Predictive Service or Product Strategy
When it comes to business, sometimes our customers don’t understand what they want, or need, until we show it to them.
Keeping this noted, it is well worth your time to look into what potential products and services might be needed in your area, or by your customers. You could also work on creating an avenue for a new product or service by offering a two-pronged product.
Think Apple’s AirPods.
The company stripped their iPhone of a headphone jack and offered a wireless alternative.
It’s in your best interest to follow a similar approach to future proof your business and prepare products in advance while you can.
Work on Risk Management Early
Another key future-proofing strategy for businesses is to be on the lookout for any type of risk as soon as possible.
A myriad of successful businesses have teams, or a single team member at the least, to go over every possible risk or potential problem that could occur with your brand — and then develop a mitigation and recovery strategy.
With these tasks done, you’re going to be well-prepared if something awry does occur and you will be ready for these issues so completely that they hardly affect your brand at all.
Listen to Your Clients and Customers
To end our list, we’d like to point out that your clients and customers are the only parties keeping your businesses afloat — so what they say goes.
If you’re noticing that your customers have something to say, listen to them! To add to this, give your customers the chance to tell you what their experience with your businesses was like, and what they’d like to be improved.
Use this information to better your brand and strengthen its product and service offering and you’re on the way to making sure potential poor business workflows aren’t going to cannibalise your earnings and eventually put you out of business.