One thing every entrepreneur or business owner would love to do is to predict the future of their business. In fact, who wouldn’t love to look and see into the future of their business? Almost everyone would. At least, I would. But, undoubtedly, it is one of the most difficult things to do in your business. Just like life in general, one is not likely to tell how things will turn out in the near future. Plus, the dynamics of doing business in the past have changed drastically.
Nonetheless, there is a way to easily predict the future of your business, just from its past. Yes, you read it correctly. You can predict your business’s future from its past.
The term “past” here does not necessarily refer to the history of your business. However, it simply refers to the important sources of data in the past.
The past of a business is driven by two factors: internal and external.
These factors happen inside your organization.
What are the numbers of your business? What are your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)? What major changes do you see in the behavior of your customers over the last months? What was happing in your business at this time?
The best way to answer any of the above questions is by gathering of “intelligence” from statistical data of your business over a period of time in the past. This is often referred to as analytics.
Believe it or not, we are emotional beings. We have the ability to “sense” something within us about a likely opportunity or problem in the future. However, our intuitions may not be 100% correct all the time. Nonetheless, they can serve as a good line of reasoning into the future when used correctly.
Externally, some factors can affect your business that can subsequently affect the future of your business.
Advancements In Technologies:
One major factor in this section is change or advancement in technology. Machines are becoming intelligent almost every day. Thus, a lot of the routine tasks of an organization are getting done by computers.
For instance, many organizations are resulting the use of chat bots to render quicker and better customer support to their customers. If this or similar occurrence like this has happened in the recent past in your industry, it is a clear indicator of the future of your industry.
Advancement In Business Processes:
Not only have technologies, changed in the past in various industries, but processes have changed too. Procedures and steps businesses went through to create and sell their products are getting shorter and quicker daily.
For instance, many organizations are resulting to the use of video conferencing to schedule meetings and organize interviews which are faster and cost-effective than the traditional methods.
Business Interest of Governments:
Lastly, there is the political aspect of external factors. While governments and unions are building state infrastructures to promote businesses in one area, they are also taking interest in key aspects of doing business such as data protection and cybersecurity.
Now that we have taken a look at what our past (in terms of business) is as well as how they can be influenced, let’s take a look at how we can maximize the past to predict the future of out business.
- Use “Hard Trend” To Tell The Future:
Trends are everywhere. However, there are different forms of it. A hard trend is one that comes from a point of certainty. For example, a prediction that many people are doing to be online in the next 10 years is a “hard trend”. There are a lot of facts and data available to back this trend. Plus, the influx of many “smart” devices and softwares are a clear indicator to confirm this hard trend. This is different from a “soft trend” like saying the price of a crypto-currency or stock will go up in the next 3 years.
As a business, the questions we need to ask ourselves is: what are the hard trends in our industry and how can we take advantage of them? To a web hosting company, the above “hard trend” may mean that a lot of websites will be created in future. To a cyber-security firm, it may mean the breach of data of many organizations and individuals will likely go up. Based on what a company does, it can take the opportunities such hard trends may present to it and predict its future.
This is one of the reasons why Apple is still one of the most valuable companies in the world. Considering the fact that smart devices would be used to do almost everything in the future, there was the need for such devices to have a lot of storage internally. Thus, they leaped ahead of the competition with large storage for their devices.
- Expect The Future Now:
After using the “hard trend” discussed above to tell the future, it is important to draw strategies from it based on what you already know to identify what you should expect going forward.
This goes beyond “taking advantage” of hard trends to derive some opportunities. Here, we are looking at clearly identifying the problems you are likely to encounter in the future based on these hard trends. In simple terms, we are asking ourselves one question: What problems are we likely to run into in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years (based on this hard trend)?
Once clearly outlined, the next job for your company is to start building your services and products to solve this problem in advance before they finally show up.
- Skip The “Big Problem”:
If I should ask you now about your biggest problem, you are likely going to talk about your lack of funding or inadequate staff. But, guess what, that is the “obvious” problem and not the real problem.
Hidden behind that “big problem” like lack of funding is the real problem of wasteful spending or expensive corporate purchases. It is important to use the hard trends gathered from the various sources like analytics to tell which problems are real and detrimental to the future of the business.
- Direct Your Paths Accordingly:
After gathering the needed hard trends, you are likely left with three options: facing the future, moving in opposite direction or leaving things to chance.
Facing the future means you are willing to move in the direction of the future irrespective of where it make direct you. You build your arsenal enough to overcome any challenge you may likely face.
Moving in the opposite direction means you detect beforehand a new path to take with your business based on the hard trend evidence before you.
Leaving things to chance is to basically not do much or leave everything to “work out” on their own. This is probably the last thing any business owner would want to consider in the first place. But, it is one that is likely to happen if nothing is done about the future of your business.
Though the future remains quite “unpredictable”, one thing that is certain is change. Change is bound to happen at any moment in any business industry, whether we are prepared for it or not. in the end, the company that predicts its future and thrives ahead of its competitors is the one that took advantage of its hard trends.