As a business owner (prospective or established), you are probably used to thinking far ahead. In the midst of one quarter, your mind is already turned to the next one, and the one after that. It’s the only way to run a business. If you don’t keep your finger on the pulse, then you will quickly find your company being left behind.
Mostly, however, you will be focusing on your business. As you do that, with a short-sightedness that intense scrutiny affords, you might not have the opportunity to notice the world is shifting around you too. While you focus on your one sector, everything else might change – and these changes pose just as much of a risk to you.
The Future Of… Employees
When you’re an employer, you are keenly aware that you are responsible for the livelihoods of many people. In rough times, it can weigh on your conscience. In good times, you are delighted to have a staff of reliable employees who have made this possible.
However, employment practices are changing. Contracts are changing; many people want more flexible working than the standard nine-to-five. You need to keep an eye on political changes in case they impact employment law. And you need to be aware of how technology might allow you to reduce your workforce, or at least transfer them into other roles.
The Future Of… Your Business Partners
Focused on the immediate business aims, you can lose track of the human side of things. Do you have measures in place to protect your company if something happens to one of your fellow owners? Or, if you’re a sole trader, what happens to the company if you can no longer run it?
Uncomfortable as it might be to consider, you should be considering key person life insurance and ensuring your will is up to date. You have a responsibility to your staff to ensure that times may change, but they will always have a job to rely on.
The Future Of… Globalization
If you import any aspect of your business – from materials to end line products – then you have to keep an eye on political changes. The current force of reform is towards an anti-globalization switch, bringing back home-grown manufacturing and reworking trade agreements. If this happens, are you going to be able to cope? Do you have alternatives in place? If not, spend an afternoon thinking of an alternative strategy – a contingency plan that you might not ever need, but will be glad to have if you find you do.
The Future Of… Technology
Mentioned above, technology may one day trim your workforce as machines and computers can do the same work as humans but without the need for sick days and money. Are you ahead of the curve on this? Do you know what to expect, and have you considered the legal and ethical implications?
Considering all of the above might sound like a full-time job in and of itself. However, setting aside a few days a month to open your eyes to the rest of the world and ensure you’re ready for what’s going to hit is the only way to ensure your business is in safe hands.
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