So you want to be an entrepreneur? Good for you. But you may have heard that it’s a lot of work, and those stories were no exaggeration. Along with the standard difficulties in starting a business, modern times have introduced new challenges that previous generations never had to deal with. Here are four things to consider when “future-proofing” your business.
Your Profit Gradient
Put simply, how long does your business have to run before it starts making money? This isn’t an easy question for everyone. A burger stand can pretty much count from the day they sell their first burger, but a Silicon Valley tech start-up with an e-commerce aim has to consider they’ll run at a loss for up to a few years, living on investor funding. By the same token, how long can your business remain profitable? Businesses based on a transient need may see a new technology improvement drive them out of business. Businesses based on knowledge are counting the clock until AI replaces them. On the other hand, businesses which have enduring presence through the decades can count on remaining viable in the long-term. There’s no shame in running a “flash in the pan” business; it’s smart to capitalize on a fat profit even in a transient market. But being realistic about your business’ profit gradient will make all the difference in your long-term decisions.
Your Disaster Plan
When businesses fail, the most common reason is that there was an unforeseen snag. The saying in war goes “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy,” and one might also add that no business plan survives contact with the market. What if they make what you’re selling illegal, or it turns out the market isn’t there for your product? It’s also surprising how easily a business can be wiped out by simple outages, accidents, equipment breakdowns, and other disasters. Things like power generators can go a long way during these situations. No matter how smart your business plan is, you need to plan for every contingency.
Your Staffing Needs
Here’s a curve ball that almost no one can predict: How will the market look for qualified employee candidates for your needs in five years? To put it bluntly, if there are no available people to run your business, you’re just out of luck. Pay attention to the current student market. Will you have to compete for candidates five years from now when everybody is running the same kind of business? Staying flexible and realistic in your job requirements will help you meet your staffing challenges without it becoming a crisis.
Your Marketing Plan
Gary Vaynerchuk, business marketing guru, makes the point in one of his speeches that everybody is a media company first. No matter what, interacting with the media will make or break your brand, and this applies to every industry and service. Your first marketing employee should be a content creator, who can spin your company’s story into an engaging narrative for your potential customers. And then you should be very open-minded in listening to this person, because they are the media expert. This will become more crucial with every passing month.
In closing, there’s of course many more issues that can make or break a business. These are just four problem areas which have become more prominent lately. If nothing else, being good at making a business survive is a combination of preparedness, foresight, and luck.