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Progress Perfection: Five Ways to Keep Pushing Forward in Business

​Starting a company from the ground up and it becoming a success- there’s no greater feeling.

So many entrepreneurs have tried and failed, and so if your business survives its first year and turns a healthy profit then you’ve already defied the odds. However, just because your company is successful and turning a profit now, doesn’t mean this will always be the case. You can never get complacent in business, you need to always be adapting and making changes to keep moving forward and continue giving the customer what they want. Here are just a few examples of places to keep an eye on, and changes you might need to make over the years of running your business venture.

Photo from PhotMix

Keep an eye on your competitors

As well as focusing on your own business, it’s important to be keeping an eye on your competitors too. Regardless of what you do, the market is so saturated with businesses that you’re always going to have competitors, even if your company seems fairly niche. Since you and your competitors will be directly competing for the same customers, what they do can massively affect you. A change or advancement in their business could render yours obsolete. A drop in their prices will make yours look expensive in comparison and mean people start shopping with them instead of you. Watch out for their moves and changes, keeping in mind what this could mean for your own company. Don’t lose sight of your own mission, but know that customers have the choice. Changes could make their own business more appealing and yours, much less so by comparison. If they have a blog, read their posts. Check their social media and read their reviews on third party review sites. These will all give clues to their next move and any changes they’ve made.

Keep an eye on the wider world

As well as your competitors, it makes sense to know what’s going on in the wider world too. Technology moves at an alarming rate, trends come and go and customers expectations are constantly changing. If you want to keep your business with the times then these are all factors that should play into your decision making. If there are advancements out there for example that will mean your business will be useless within a few years, you have time to act and make changes. Just look at Blockbuster, this once multi million dollar company refused to adapt when online video streaming became popular. Don’t make this kind of mistake in your own business! It can be tricky to know when something is just a fad and if it’s here to stay, doing plenty of research and staying up to date with the news will all help. Read articles and the newspaper. Watch the news, listen to the radio and keep an eye on social media. These can all give you hints as to emerging and dying trends.

Know when to adapt

Based on the above two points, you need to know when to adapt. Successful companies are constantly making small changes, evolving and moving with the times to ensure they’re always giving people what they want. If you’re a business that sells food for example, the growing trend in veganism for example (Google trends showed a 90% increase in vegan searches in recent years) it would make sense to cater to these people. Adding a vegan line or product, or allowing your recipes to be adapted for vegans for example will mean you’re appealing to a wider group of people. Health has also become a hot topic in recent years, and so again is something many businesses will want to keep in mind. Knowing when (and how) to adapt will prevent your company from becoming obsolete.

Update your technology and software

One way you can adapt, as well as tackle jobs more quickly and efficiently is to invest in the right technology. Fast and reliable computers, phones, printers and more will all prevent you from being slowed down during the working day. You then need the right softwares to run on them, good business software is the key to success. There are plenty of great programs out there that you can buy which you can adapt your processes around. However, for the best results it’s often worth investing in bespoke software. This is designed with your business and all of the tasks you do in mind. You don’t have to ‘make do’ or adapt anything as it all works exactly how you need it. This isn’t a cheap option, but is worth the money overall as it can make everything you do quicker and more accurate. Another thing to bear in mind as a business owner is that older methods such as faxing are still utilised, but are ever changing. Take fax server software for example, it eliminates the need for expensive fax servers, traditional fax machines and telecoms costs. Instead, it replaces them with ongoing equipment, software, supplies and licenses. If you’re still using outdated or even manual methods in business, you need to get with the times. Bad decisions here can lead to the overall failure of your venture.

Stop outsourcing

Outsourcing is sometimes a great option. It allows you to progress, and open entire new departments with none of the hassle or costs involved in setting up a new premises, hiring staff or buying equipment. However, there will of course always be fees involved in outsourcing and they could eat into your profits. If you’re in a position where you can take your own departments in-house in your business then it can be a good idea to do so. While there are costs and time involved in initially setting up, once you’re all done you can save money moving forward. If your business is already succeeding and you know you’ll be in it for the long haul then this can be the next logical step. It could involve opening your own offices for things like finance, accounting and legal departments, opening you own plant or factory for manufacturing or investing in your own vehicles or even ships for delivery purposes.

Update your office

You might not think that the appearance of your office makes a huge difference to the quality of your work, but you might be surprised. Your office is where a large amount of work for your business takes place, and where are number of your employees spend a significant portion of their time. A space that feels cluttered dingy or unpleasant can affect worker’s mood, which can in turn affect their productivity. Another way your office can affect your business is a shabby office can turn off potential clients. With so much competition out there, you need to ensure you’re standing out and not giving people a reason to walk away. You don’t need to spend a fortune sprucing up your office, but do spend a little time making it a nice place to be. Paint the walls a light, neutral shade. Purchase some comfortable chairs and sturdy desks, and lay them out in a way that feels spacious rather than cluttered. Not only will this be aesthetically pleasing but it will be more practical too. Ideally, desks should be positioned close to windows so that workers can reap the benefits of the natural light. This is better for the eyes than artificial lighting and is also a natural mood booster. Another way to do the same is to add living plants. They boost mood and as another bonus, add colour and texture to the office without looking fussy. Have a cleaning company come in on a regular basis to keep everything clean and in order. A good office is at the heart of your company, positive changes here can improve your entire business.

It can be worrying as an entrepreneur, knowing whether your company will stand the test of time. As business owners we pour our souls into our ventures, and when they’re successful it’s such a massive achievement. So if things start to flag or go downhill it can be stressful and have you wondering if you company can survive. Keeping an eye on the wider world, spotting changes early and making a plan to adapt in the right way is key. On top of this, you’ll need to keep your employees happy and utilise all of the newest technology. Keep your business turning a profit today and for many years to come.

Company owners, do you worry about being made obsolete? What steps do you take to stay up to date, and prevent this from happening