Future-proof your business: read these five indispensable tips
We live in an age of almost constant disruption. Businesses in industries that have been around for decades, and even centuries, shut down all the time. Sometimes they just surrender unable to cope with the changes around them. Other times, they struggle violently in the hopes that, somehow, they'll be able to maintain the status-quo.
If you're running an established business, you don't want to end up doing either of those things. You want to be able to adapt and thrive far into the future. Here are five ways to make that happen.
1. Act like a startup
Phil Libin, the CEO of Silicon-Valley tech company Evernote, says that his goal for the company is for it to be a 100 year startup. By that he means it should constantly look to disrupt both itself and the market it plays in.
That's a good principle for business in general: the quicker you can adapt and, if needs be, change track, the less likely you are to get caught off guard by changes in your industry.
2. Encourage innovation
If your business is fairly established, your employees may have reached a comfort zone, where new ideas and innovation seem like someone else's problem. Or if they have new ideas, they may feel too afraid to share them. And that's a situation you don't want to find yourself in.
Internally, you could hold innovation-based competitions, with prizes that reward and fuel creative thinking. But you could also encourage them to take risks outside the company – by helping them do something they've never done before for instance. Even if they don't succeed, employees should feel free to try new things. That way your business won't die from lack of innovation.
3. Stay to true to your roots
While it's always advisable to stay up to date with the latest technologies in your industry, you shouldn't blindly follow trends if it means risking the soul of your business.
Make sure you understand the core ingredients that got you to where you are today and hold onto them. Authenticity never goes out of fashion
4. But be prepared to adapt
While you should never sell out for the sake of something new, you should be able to embrace change and explore new avenues of business.
Just look at Apple. For most of its history, it just made computers. It still does. But if it hadn't been bold enough to take on the personal music market with the iPod, what are the chances it would've felt comfortable enough to build the iPhone and the iPad? Thing is, as revolutionary as those devices seem, they're all distinctly "Apple" in look and feel.
5. Look beyond your immediate competition
Your biggest competitor today may not exist in a decade's time and your biggest competitor in a decade's time may not exist today.
Keep an eye on what startups in and around your industry are doing. Learn from them and collaborate when it's to your benefit.
That way, when the industry-shifting disruption comes, you'll be ready.