Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In an age of rapid change and rising uncertainty, it is more important than ever that your business is built on a model that is adaptable and resilient. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone has seen their personal and professional lives turned upside down as our living rooms have become our new office, and coworkers (for many of us) are now pixels on a screen. Add to this, a volatile global economy that has sent prices soaring and supply chains scrambling.
Change is inevitable. More than ever, it’s essential to prepare yourself and your team for the unexpected by crafting a business plan that is dynamic and innovative. Here are some tips you can implement into your business so you can be prepared for the unexpected.
1. Identify the recent changes in your industry
To excel in business, it is important not only to understand the market but also to have an understanding of the industry’s business environment. The first influential factors you want to identify are uncontrollable elements, such as social, economic and political changes. How is the present state of the world impacting your current business model, and what new ideas can you implement to keep on top of these changes? Another factor to watch out for is socio-economic changes, which will alter the behavior of your customers. Gain a competitive advantage through new technologies and technological flexibility to keep up with these fast-paced changes.
At the beginning of the pandemic, for instance, many small businesses had to close their retail stores as it was mandated to shut down nonessential businesses. While many of these businesses failed, the ones that survived were able to do so due to their innovation and adaptability. Through opening online stores and using creative ways to advertise via social media, some small businesses were able to create enough revenue to stay afloat during uncertain times.
2. Pay attention to how your audience uses social media
Always keep an eye on trending practices and norms making an impact on society. Look at how your consumer base interacts online. For instance, if your goal is to grab the attention of a younger audience, a proactive approach on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram may be a good start. Hiring young minds and participating in current trends is an effective way to reach your audience, as these social media platforms curate content for each individual viewer.
If your audience is older, Facebook could be a more effective platform. Many business leaders mistakenly believe the older demographic is mostly offline. When targeting the older generation, you will need to use a different approach. The important trends and tactics used to target Gen Z and millennials will not work. While younger people use Instagram and TikTok to share personal content such as selfies and short vlogs, older audiences will use social media to share articles, photos and videos relating to their interests. With this in mind, you can cultivate an online presence with news stories that will attract like-minded people to your business.
3. Recruit employees with a knack for innovation
Although you have a business model that should ideally function in a changing society, the success of your business could not be guaranteed without the creativity and innovation of your employees. In order to not only stay alive during uncertain times but also to gain a competitive edge in the market, hiring employees who are forward-thinking, progressive and share the values and vision for your brand is essential.
Creating a workplace that allows employees to excel means fostering a positive attitude toward innovation and new ideas. Existing in an ecosystem that values creativity and flexibility ensures that employees can pivot and maintain high productivity, no matter what is thrown their way. Along with this, you should make sure your employees feel valued and that their ideas are respected so that they can feel more connected to your company and invested in the best outcome possible.
4. Build a team of consultants
When focusing on the demands of running your business, keeping up with industry and consumer trends can be a challenge. Working with a consultant or advisory team can help ensure you don’t miss out on major market changes or lose your competitive position, regardless of what is coming down the pike. An outside expert can often provide the insight and objective perspective needed to assess your market standing and identify problems and areas of improvement. They can also guide your team on how to make changes when the ground begins to shift, particularly when it comes to adjusting your advertising techniques or revitalizing your brand. This group of advisors could also be a close group of friends, peers and partners if you want to keep it informal. Together, they can bring to light all kinds of different perspectives and identify what is coming.
5. Listen to your customers
Although you may think you know your company best, the people who are interacting and consuming your product or service should be the actual experts. Paying customers should always be what drives meaningful change across your business. Do not be afraid to ask customers what they are looking for in your service and what they anticipate in terms of future need. Changing with the market means considering client needs in every decision. Through this, you can get insight into trends and start developing a plan for your company to grow and better serve your customers in the future.
The ability to adapt and change in business can make or break your company. Implementing better project management, hiring and listening to the right people can help you focus on what’s working and move forward with your business plan. The world is and will always evolve and present new challenges, so you need to be prepared to succeed under any circumstances!