The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of the importance of preparedness in businesses. According to a study by economists at the Federal Reserve System, 200,000 establishments in the US were forced to close in the first year of the viral outbreak alone.
Many would argue that no one could have seen the pandemic coming, but is it really something businesses can’t prepare for? An enterprise can’t be expected to have a contingency for every specific road bump. What comes tomorrow is always uncertain, after all. However, a business that is future-ready is more likely to succeed and survive despite any setbacks.
What is a “future-ready” business?
A future-ready business (FRB) is a business that can recover swiftly after disruptions. An FRB won’t see every setback coming, but it wouldn’t matter for they are equipped to recover from it. There is no clear-cut definition of what makes a business future-ready, but FRBs share a set of similar characteristics.
FRBs are adaptable - a future-ready business can adapt to its ever-evolving needs with agility.
FRBs embrace new technologywell - a part of FRBs’ adaptability is their eagerness to successfully utilize and integrate new tech to help themselves grow.
FRBs take a data-centric approach - successful companies realize the importance of data in business decisions so they invest time and resources in its collection, analysis, and application.
FRBs are sustainable - they are committed to hitting sustainable development goals (SDGs).
FRBs plan for the long-term and act fast - a primary reason why FRBs deal with uncertainties well is their long-term planning and fast decision-making.
FRBs take care of their people - a part of being future-ready is investing in employee development and welfare.
This set of characteristics is not the end-all and be-all of being future-ready, but it can help young businesses by giving them an idea of what they should strive for.
1 - Aim high
Ambition can be the downfall of any enterprise, but it’s a vital part of long-term success. After all, no business can be prepared for what the future has in store if it doesn’t think big. Setting lofty, long-term goals allows a business to see the bigger picture at the start of its journey.
Establishing goals gives a company direction as it always knows where it’s supposed to go and what it’s supposed to do to get there. It’s imperative that a business has clearly defined ambitions, scouring the market for potential opportunities previously hidden.
Setting grandiose ambitions can be terrifying. What if your business never achieves it? What if it never even gets close? Frustration can creep up on businesses with lofty goals, but it allows them to think bigger than in the past. This is important because it allows them to think outside the box and consider factors they’ve never even thought of before. They’ll be able to see threats farther down the road and be able to adapt fast.
Furthermore, thinking big helps businesses see opportunities better. Since they’ve set the bar high for their organization, everyone is more inclined to go beyond what’s expected of them. This increases morale and makes the transformation of your business more satisfying at every step.
2 - Take a bite-sized approach
To avoid succumbing to the weight of lofty ambitions, a business needs to start small. You have audacious goals, but that doesn’t mean everything your business does from the get-go should be solely focused on hitting said goals. Thinking big is meant to provide guidance and motivate action.
Based on the vision you have created for your business, start establishing short-term goals that help put you in a better position to hit larger goals. These bite-sized objectives will differ from one business to another, but there are some essential items to prioritize.
Improve employee onboarding - onboarding can make the difference between night and day when it comes to employee experience and performance. Making your onboarding process effortless is a small objective your business can achieve in a relatively short time.
Stay on top of compliance - one of the obligations your business will have as it grows is remaining compliant. Study what laws, regulations, and industry standards govern your business and take the steps necessary to abide by them consistently. Work towards a comprehensive compliance risk management strategy so your company can continue operating smoothly.
Invest in cybersecurity - tying in with compliance, investing in cybersecurity should be one of your top priorities in the early stages of your business. Being protected from malicious parties in the cyberspace ensures your business is a less attractive target and is equipped to survive a breach.
Build a data-driven workflow - corporations worldwide spend hundreds of billions in big data and business analytics. While you shouldn’t blow your funds on data when just starting out, you should already design your workflow and processes with data in mind.
3 - Cultivate a green culture
To be future-ready is to be sustainable. If you want to achieve your sustainable development goals or commit to corporate sustainability easier, creating a green company culture is the perfect first step.
Train your people, from the bottom to the top of the organizational chart, on the best sustainable practices. Appoint one person, a chief sustainability officer (CSO), to handle your business’s sustainability efforts. Having a CSO sends a message that your company is taking sustainability seriously.
When your company is built around sustainability, complying with environmental laws and adapting to fast-developing green technology becomes easier. As your business grows, you’ll be able to scale sustainably.
Summing it up
Future-ready businesses are adaptable, sustainable, and data-centric. They don’t hesitate to embrace new technologies and they care for their employees. To make your business ready for the future, you must think big, start small, and cultivate a green culture.