Five Ways to Future Proof Your Business in 2016
It’s that time of the year when every expert is making predictions about 2016. As a futurist, I’m doing the same – and you can see my glimpes into the future in my Future Proof webinar series.
But some of those predictions seem so far removed from our day-to-day work. Even if they aren’t that far in the future, it’s hard to think about them when you have an overflowing in-box, teams to manage, customers to serve, and internal office politics.
The problem is, if you spend all of your time on those day-to-day things, there’s a real risk you will miss the threats – and opportunities – just around the corner.
So I have five suggestions for you. These are all about stepping outside your regular work and thinking ahead, but are all easy to do as well.
1. Spend two days on this!
A few years ago, when I switched from Outlook to Gmail, it took me about two days effort (spread out over a week or so) to get back to my old level of productivity. When I recently switched from MYOB to Xero for my accounting software, again it took me about two days effort overall.
Two days sounds like a lot of time, especially in today’s busy world. How can you afford to find two days in your schedule to learn a new e-mail system, use a new accounting package, recruit somebody new, document something important in your business, or build a Web site?
But the real question is: If it has a long-term benefit, how can you not afford the time?
You might have been putting off something because you know it takes some effort to get started. It’s definitely not easy to make the time – especially when you think of all the other things you could do with that time (most of which you’re not doing!). But weigh up the short-term pain with the long-term gain.
Just two days … that’s all I ask!
2. Learn something new
I want you to learn something new – maybe something personal, maybe something professional.
But there’s a specific way I want you to learn it: by doing an online course.
Go to Open2Study.com and sign up for one of their courses. It’s free, open to everybody, and high quality – backed by Australian and New Zealand universities.
This is the way people learn, collaborate and innovate now.
Learn it for yourself, but also learn it for your kids, your grandkids, and everybody in your team. Show them how to do it as well, and encourage them to learn something new. And give them time – yes, on your time – to do it.
3. Try Uber!
I’m sure you have heard of Uber, and some of you might already be using it. In case you haven’t heard, it’s the San Francisco company – now worldwide – that is competing head to head with taxi companies in many cities around the world. And winning.
Try it! I’m not an owner, but I want you to experience how it works.
Just download and install the free Uber app now. And then some time over the next couple of months, take a taxi somewhere – perhaps to a Christmas or New Year party – and then take Uber back home.
And compare the difference.
What Uber has done is look at every little complaint, pain point and problem about using taxis – and fixed them. I want you to see how it’s been very, very smart at identifying every little problem that customers have in a particular industry – and fixing them.
And if Uber can do it, why can’t you? What are the problems and pain points of your customers, clients and patients? And what can you do to fix them? Just fix one and you will be streets ahead of your competitors.
4. Ask your team members for advice
This is something that I would like you to make a habit in your business.
Make it a point to go to every person in your business and ask for their advice – not about how to do their job better, but how to make your business better.
You’ll be amazed by what they say. In fact, if you have never done this before, you might be amazed at what they know!
For example …
- Your practice manager might be a successful YouTube video blogger at home.
- A recent graduate might be the leader of some important social cause.
- A senior manager might be doing one of those online courses I mentioned – on her own time.
- That quiet introverted technician might have joined Toastmasters to develop his presentation skills.
They all have skills, talents and abilities far beyond their day-to-day work. And when you ASK for their advice – and listen to it and act on it, of course – they get the chance to share those skills. And that’s good for everybody.
5. Set one Big Hairy Audacious Goal
Finally, look for at least one idea that would light your fire, seems beyond your reach, and might even appear crazy to most other people. It’s the sort of thing that could change your world (and you get to define “change” and “world”).
It might be something personal – such as your health, relationships, or wealth.
It might be something for your business, like eliminating all meetings, turning your team inside out to be more customer-centric, engaging your local community to support your business, or speaking at a TEDx event in your area.
Or it could be something on a broader scale, like changing the way your industry treats women, saving the black rhino from extinction, or creating a new accounting standard.
Sam Schillace from the cloud storage company Box puts it this way:
“If 80% think it’s the dumbest idea ever and should die in a fire, and 20% think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen, then you’ve probably got something.”
Which of these things will YOU do?
All of these five things will help future-proof your business and your career. Don’t do them all at once, but do them!
Innovation Kick Start 2016 – Webinar Series in January
Our world is changing rapidly, and businesses and entire industries are being shaken, disrupted and toppled. This is a huge opportunity if you can take advantage of it, but a massive threat if you don't. Will you thrive or survive?
In this three-part webinar series, I will give you a glimpse into what's ahead, show you how to embrace and lead the change, and guide you through creating a realistic action plan to implement your ideas.
- Innovate (14 January): A glimpse into the future (including what's just around the corner for your industry)
- Integrate (21 January): Enlisting the help of the people with the best ideas – including your employees, your customers, and YOU!
- Implement (28 January): Putting your ideas into practice
You will find this webinar series useful if:
- You work in a highly competitive industry
- You want to attract, motivate and retain the best people
- Your business or industry is already going through change
- You want to future-proof your organisation for 2016 and beyond