Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

iden­tify which events have the great­est po­ten­tial to dis­rupt it. You also need to con­sider which sources to con­sult to stay ahead of the curve. Most im­por­tantly, you should have a long-term view of where you want your busi­ness to be in, say, five years,” he says.

One of the ma­jor trends im­pact­ing businesses is tech­nol­ogy. New pro­cesses and prod­ucts are con­stantly be­ing in­tro­duced. The drop­ping price of broad­band and the in­tro­duc­tion of a wider va­ri­ety of cheaper de­vices, with smart­phones leading the pack (par­tic­u­larly in emerg­ing mar­kets), are mak­ing it eas­ier to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion.

“You may have to view your op­er­a­tions, prod­ucts and ser­vices in this light,” notes Goven­der. “In­stead of buy­ing equip­ment that could be ob­so­lete within a year, you could be bet­ter off sav­ing the cap­i­tal and leas­ing equip­ment in­stead. If your busi­ness re­lies on mar­ket­ing, the tech­no­log­i­cal revo­lu­tion could mean swop­ping from printed ma­te­rial to elec­tron­i­cally-de­liv­ered cat­a­logues.”

He says that ask­ing, “What if?” about your busi­ness and the in­dus­try that you work in is also im­por­tant.

Think about new pro­cesses that could be in­tro­duced, which com­peti­tors could en­ter the mar­ket and how your prod­ucts or ser­vices would mea­sure up. The key to suc­cess is be­ing able to look at your busi­ness with a crit­i­cal eye, eval­u­ate how it op­er­ates, and how things could be im­proved to main­tain your com­pet­i­tive edge.

Eval­u­ate your cus­tomer base. Al­ways be aware of who your cus­tomers are, what they want and where they live. By keep­ing an eye on the area in which your busi­ness is sit­u­ated it­u­ated or ar­eas eas you serve, , you can iden­tify fy changes in the neigh­bour­hood hood and be able ble de­velop your of­fer­ings ac­cord­ingly to in­crease your sales.

Goven­der oven­der ex­plains: “You may find, for ex­am­ple, ple, that young, up­wardly mo­bile pro­fes­sion­als ssion­als are buy­ing or ren­o­vat­ing houses in the area. By know­ing this, you could de­velop prod­ucts or ser­vices that would be of in­ter­est to them and cre­ate new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties for your busi­ness.

“It may seem ir­rel­e­vant to think about the en­vi­ron­ment when con­sid­er­ing your small busi­ness. The truth, how­ever, is that people are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly con­scious about the im­pact they have on the en­vi­ron­ment.”

It would be mis­guided to think that your busi­ness won’t be im­pacted be­cause people love your prod­ucts and don’t care about the ma­te­ri­als or pack­ag­ing you use. By tak­ing ac­tion to en­sure that you use re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als and that your prod­ucts have no or a re­duced ad­verse im­pact on the planet, you could be safe­guard­ing the fu­ture of your busi­ness.

In his TED talk ti­tled Profit’s Not Al­ways the Point, COO of Unilever Har­ish Manwani ar­gues that 21st century com­pa­nies have to look be­yond self-in­ter­est and em­brace re­spon­si­ble growth if they want to thrive. He urges com­pa­nies to de­fine a pur­pose that em­braces re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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