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How to prepare your business for the future

Having understood the importance of setting realistic goals and hopefully started your journey of revising the plans you had set for your business; you should now be able to develop and document a plan that will map out your business’s future direction. This involves strategic planning and utilising current resources to chart the course for the future.

Here are some suggestions on how you can go about this critical exercise:

Be clear about where you are currently positioned
It is really great to know where you are going. However, if you do not know where you are, you will find it difficult to reach your target. When thinking about and crafting your future, analysis to determine your current situation is as important as a clear vision of the targeted future. Conduct a critical analysis of all your resources.

Involve key stakeholders
During your analysis of your key resources, be prudent enough to involve relevant stakeholders. Whether your business is very small or relatively medium sized, long serving and highly credible employees, and perhaps selected clients, should form part of this exercise.

Your discussions should focus on the following:

  • Identify areas of uniqueness for your business. Is it your technology? Is it that you have the best skilled people in your industry? Be very clear about what your best assets are
  • Decide on a strategic position to exploit that identified uniqueness
  • Consider trade-off areas that neither contribute to nor complement that uniqueness

The main purpose of this exercise is to have a better understanding of the most unique resources that set you apart in your industry of choice. In other words, what makes your business cut through the clutter? Isolate these, quantify them as they stand today, and compare them against the desired future.

Document and disseminate the findings
Share the outcomes of the preliminary process described above with all the stakeholders who participated. Wherever possible, this should be done by reassembling the group. Clearly indicate to the contributors those suggestions you are taking on board and those you will not, and why not. Keep your key stakeholders abreast with all the steps you will take going forward.

Gain the agreement of your key people
Involve your key people in the process. Remember that those with a vested interest in keeping things as they are have become experts at derailing threats to their comfort and security. They believe that their experience counts only if the future is the same as the past and the present. Spend a large amount of time with your key people to reach a shared view on the future state, what it involves and what their contributions are expected to be.

Be sure that your business is ready for the future
Analysing your current resources for future purposes is strategic. It is about securing your tomorrow, today. One of your greatest considerations will be whether your business culture is open to a detailed exploration of its resources and future opportunities. This exploration, critical and deep introspection if you like, must challenge the comfort zones of your key stakeholders, yourself included.

Future thinking is thinking big
You do not necessarily need a crystal ball to look into the future. A small group of committed, forward looking and big thinking employees as well as selected clients will do the trick. A point of warning, do not waste time on trivia. Rather, think big and consider: What are the two or three substantial issues that will affect your future? There are certainly enough small thinkers around to worry about the small problems without your help.

Do what great leaders do
Great leaders relentlessly advance their key people, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence. Keep evaluating and making sure you have the right people in the right jobs, that all your resources are giving you the optimum outputs. Make it your daily ambition that people not only see the vision for the future but that they live and breathe it.

Someone once said that doers get to the top of the mountain by climbing it, while dreamers sit at the bottom. Arriving at and articulating your future requires more than simply analysing your current resources and dreaming about the future. In the long run, after all is said and done, your desired future will only become a reality through action and that will require climbing, not sitting.