Strategies for futureproofing your trade or service business
5 minute read
Article by AroFlo
Speak to any business growth expert, and it quickly becomes apparent that their focus is on one single word, future. Whether it’s future growth, future market changes, future challenges, or future opportunities, the word future crops up repeatedly when discussing anything in the realm of business potential.
But speculating on what the future might hold doesn’t directly lead to any positive business growth. That requires people to turn thought into action, which is known as futureproofing. A future proof business anticipates what tomorrow might hold and then develops methods to minimise potential threats and maximise potential gains.
Just hearing that description alone, you might not immediately see why futureproofing is necessary for trade or service businesses. After all, the trade and service sector is traditionally very stable, continuing to function when other industries have been impacted by economic or social pressures outside of their control.
But just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t, and a proactive trade or service business owner can ensure they are ready with some surprisingly simple to achieve futureproofing strategies.
In this article, we’ll discuss seven strategies for futureproofing your operation that help fortify common trade and service business shortcomings and create potential avenues for future growth as times change. As we work through each strategy, we’ll also cover techniques for ensuring changes you make to futureproof your business are both practical and well received by employees.
1. Upgrading your tech
It’s no great secret that technology and digital automation have swept through the trade and service industry like wildfire. Whether it’s running your business remotely via cloud-based job management software or even something as simple as a digital accounting package that removes paperwork from the equation, tech is everything. But the unfortunate fact is that some technology begins to age over time, and what was once a cutting-edge solution may now be failing to meet your future business needs.
Because technology is now core to how we do business, upgrading your digital systems is one of the best ways of futureproofing your trade or service business. To get started, examine the systems in your business arsenal that are not meeting your current (and, by extension, future) needs and begin to replace them with better options. Just remember that the quicker you upgrade, the easier it will be for you and your business to meet future changes head-on.
2. Creating room to grow
For many trade and service-based businesses, growth has always been an organic system, with new employees added to the ranks when necessary, rather than at planned intervals. While a system like this works perfectly well, it can leave you open to potentially missing significant opportunities to expand or even unable to do so when you need to.
A structured growth strategy may take a little more time to formulate, but what you gain is the ability to map out your expansion potentially years into the future. With a clear map laid out beforehand, you’ll also be ready to recruit when the time comes, rather than having to set up the process each time you come around to it again.
To start making room to grow, look at the roles that exist in your business and decide whether they have the potential to expand as your success grows. Then, put together a plan to bring on new employees at set intervals, such as reaching a specific monthly workload.
3. Securing your cash flow
So far in this article, we’ve spoken at length about futureproofing strategies that require you to change or adapt your business processes. However, when it comes to your cash flow, the best tactic for the future is often to ensure your current financial circumstances are rock solid.
Knowing what your business is worth and the cash flow it needs to survive is crucial to understand before making any attempt to plan for what tomorrow might bring. Pay close attention to how money moves through your business, with particular emphasis on your expenses. The more you evaluate your costs, the more you can refine your spending and use the freed-up money elsewhere.
Then, when you’ve got a good grasp on your cash flow and have secured your expenses, start to look at situations that might put your financial stability in jeopardy. Local, national and even international influences can have both seen and unseen effects on the trade or services sector, so keep your ear to the ground and pay attention. If circumstances change, you’ll already know what kind of stress your cash flow can take, giving you futureproofed financial oversight and a leg up over your less-prepared competition.
4. Streamlining your inventory and stock
Perhaps one of the most crucial things to get right in any trade or service business is how much stock or inventory you keep on hand. Once upon a time, this meant hours spent sifting through storerooms and warehouses, making sure you had what you need to complete every outstanding job.
Now we live in the age of digital stock management, and everything from the amount of stock on hand to the purchase order needed to buy more is accessible with the tap of a button. But advances in tech don’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about futureproofing your inventory and stock control as well.
No matter how efficient your system may be, you can’t sell what you don’t have, and rapid increases in work may see you scrabbling to source materials without a proper plan in place. Start by looking at what stock you need to keep on hand for the current amount of work your business is experiencing. Then when you have a good figure to work with, start working out what you might need if you experienced a 10%, 20% or even 50% increase in overall work.
5. Getting proper insurance cover
Whether it’s unforeseen business damage or even being injured while on the job, accidents happen, and sometimes the best method of futureproofing is to plan for things going wrong.
As a trade or service professional, you have a wide range of personal or business insurance options, with many providers catering for your industry specifically. If there’s even a chance that your everyday work could put your health or your assets at risk, it’s worth looking into coverage options for future security.
6. Building your social influence
There’s no denying that the future of advertising lies in having an excellent online presence. Traditional methods of getting your business in the public eye, such as printed listings, still work. But this article is specifically about futureproofing your trade or service business, and that means making the jump to online advertising as quickly as possible.
Your business likely already has a few online listings, whether it be business-centric like Google My Business or a social platform like Facebook or Twitter. The best place to start building your presence is to get active on these channels and create a word-of-mouth buzz around your business within your local community. If you can, interact as much as possible with your customers and ask them to leave online reviews if they are happy with the products or services that you provide.
7. Reporting on your business
Futureproofing a trade or service business means using your current circumstances as a point of reference to help you anticipate what might happen tomorrow, next week or even years down the track. But how you create this point of reference is just as important as where it leads you. An easy way to achieve this, though, is with a system for business reporting in place. You don’t have to be an analytical mastermind to create and utilise a business report. Even something as simple as mapping your profitability over the years and combining it into a single easy to read document can give you a great source of accessible information.
Digital reporting tools are also available to help, with many software packages that help you run your business also collecting the data you generate every day. This digital data can help you make incredible steps towards planning for the future. Just make sure that what you choose to track can be translated into positive action.
With these strategies under your belt, you have everything you need to start futureproofing the success of your trade or service business and ensuring that tomorrow brings nothing but growth and opportunity.
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