The adage of doing things the way you have always done them but somehow wanting better results is a common situation with many businesses. Very often, the outcome of this attitude minus the availability of a coherent business plan is a disappointing result. The exception to the rule is if you have a great business model and plan in place, it is then the reality of scaling that model effectively to grow your business. Sometimes, doing the same as you have always done is very positive – why change it if it already works. However, to enhance opportunities in your market place, demonstrating innovation or repurposing and strengthening that perception of your offering should be included in the ingredients list for making that perfect new year start, and attract more and more willing customers in 2020.
Where to look, and what to consider?
I believe the first and most important area for consideration is technology. We may not always realise just how important technology is, and take it for granted, but we are in what is now the era for substantial technological change. The decade ahead will experience a further, and I suspect a more significant technological shift that will affect most businesses. Choose to ignore at your peril!
Don’t fear it, embrace it
The business world has a natural fear of change. It creates that feeling of uncertainty and somehow a loss of control. It can leave the most resilient and balanced business person feeling very anxious. The thought of having missed opportunities that your competitors have embraced or innovation that makes your services and products redundant is untenable.
An excellent example of this is the demise of some well-known retail brands that didn’t choose to embrace change, especially the internet and online shopping: Jessops, Thomas Cook, Karen Millen, Jack Wills to name but a few. They, unfortunately, disappeared from our high streets. Indeed, reflecting on the last decade provides some insight into how the world of business will change in the next ten years. So, here are some interesting reflections on the changes we have experienced in the last ten years.
Devices – We can now do almost anything with our smartphones, tablets and wearable devices that required a laptop computer and decent internet connection ten years ago. We have an application or cloud-based piece of technology for everything we do or need in our personal and business lives, all available and accessible at a touch of an index finger, thumb or chosen digit.
Connected – We are now as individuals connected with thousands of people we would never have conversed with ten years ago. Social Media has had a significant influence on how we communicate, with whom we speak, and what tones we use. We rarely buy newspapers in favour of picking up our news from thousands of readily available and global news channels. In business, we use platforms like LinkedIn to communicate to our chosen audience, whether that is local, national or indeed international. LinkedIn was undoubtedly in existence, but few used it to communicate with others in 2010. We can also connect from anywhere we want. Fast broadband, 4G (soon to be 5G) have allowed us to connect and work from anywhere in the world.
The age of information – The term 'Google it' came before the turn of the last decade. Still, the sheer weight of information we search for now across a diverse amount of search engines, social media and other media channels is quite astonishing. However, we currently don't need to explore as much as we used to. Through the use of AI, the search engines and media channels are now providing us with accurate information we hadn't even thought of, or indeed realised that we needed. AI will have a massive influence on our personal and business lives in the future.
The past, the present, and the future
Technological advances in the last decade have had a significant influence over our personal and business lives. We can now check and transfer money from our bank in seconds, we can message friends and business colleagues in an instant, and we can watch thousands of television programmes and read the latest book on our smart devices. Everything now is convenient, efficient and at our fingertips if we want it.
Technology will dictate how every one of us conducts business in the future. It will influence our decisions and the choices we continually make. As business owners, the need to be at the forefront of technology — understanding how to enhance our business offering to build our businesses and guarantee our success in business is something all of us should be thinking about as we start a new decade.
Embracing technological innovation, I believe, is going to provide a significant influence on who comes out on top or ahead of their competition in the 2020s.
My advice is to make technology one of your priorities this year!