By now you should have begun planning for 2017. Ideally you are looking at the things that worked and did not work in 2016. You are probably looking at the “hot trends” and figuring out how to incorporate those trends into your business. But before you finish planning, there are some things you need to know and prepare for.
1. 2017 is going to be crazy!
If you think things will be calm once the 2016 US election is over, you are mistaken. The US is in the middle of a political battle the likes of which it has never experienced in its young life. This is clearly going to cause shifts in the markets and create customer uncertainty. Depending on your business model, you should expect fluctuation. With the Republicans already threatening to upend the political system if Clinton wins the presidency and Democrats attempting to make an impact on young idealized voters, you can expect more division not less. This means that every month, week or day, there could be new that causes panic. Be ready to ride the roller-coaster.
2. Innovation is necessary!
No, you do not have to be the next Steve Jobs. You just need to think outside of the box. Expand your mind and your horizons. This means you must look toward the future and find out what is “new” in your industry. It starts with understanding your customer base and what they want. How can you implement those things? How can you do it better? Innovation is not about creating something new, it is about improving what exists. You should always be focused on this. And if you cannot, you should allow employees to focus on it. Too often, business owners are focused on the here and now. That is important. However, knowing where your customer is going in the future means that you will be the head and not the tail!
3. Collaborate and consolidate!
If you are looking to expand, consider using an existing business to do so. There is a reason that large businesses merge. They do so in an effort to be ahead of the completion and creating a competitive market immediately. Expansion can come in the form of buying another business, merging or collaborating. The baby boomer generations is entering into retirement and selling their businesses. This allows younger business owners to expand through purchase and also have help in the way of outgoing owners. In addition, merging or collaborating with like businesses can help expand your market and reach more customers.
4. Consider making your own app!
For those of use that are technologically challenged, this seems overwhelming and difficult. It doesn’t have to be. How can you make it easier for your customers to deal with you? Can they pay online? Can the schedule their appointments? There are a few App creators available on Google Play and iTunes. There are also other sites that provide for free App building. To the extent that you can add this feature to your business, you should.
5. Be a connector!
Even with all of the information out there, it is difficult to distinguish the good from the bad. While many “do it yourselfers” (including myself) like to do their own research, ultimately they will go to someone to ask for help. Even if you provide certain goods and services directly to consumers, consider adding connecting to your business model. Whether you charge or offer it for free, it will be a necessary part of your business model.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.