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Future-Proofing Your Small Business: Strategies for Long-Term Growth

Strategies for long term growth

Creating and growing a business using outdated sales tactics, vanity metrics, and short-term strategies will be the death of your organization. Take a look at MySpace, Kodak, and Blockbuster for just a few examples. A similar theme with these companies was their inability to pivot in their ever-changing landscapes and losing their sense of direction. 

We’ve learned as a society that technology, the economy, and many other factors can change a business’s strategy in a single day. That’s why it’s important to think about the future when starting your business and focus on the people who help you along the way. 

Keep reading for tips to future-proof your small business and prepare for long-term growth.

Begin with the End

You’ve heard the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”—  and for good reason. When you start your business or even if you’ve been running it for 10 years, it’s important to think about where you want your company to be in the next 10, 20, or 50 years from now. 

An even greater question is what legacy do you want your business to have? What is the feeling you want to evoke from your logo or business name? That should help guide your goals and open up new ways of how you can help people. 

So how do you practically think about where you want your business to be in X number of years?

  • Carve out time on your calendar to think about the questions listed above. This may be the hardest step for busy business owners but it’s the first step in creating a successful long-term strategy for success. Annual planning serves this very purpose — it carves out time for you to review the current state of your business and set future goals.
  • Develop a broad roadmap of strategies and milestones you would like to pursue to help reach your end goals. This can include specific tactics with detailed timeframes or it can be left broad to lay out where you want to end up.
  • Communicate with your internal team members or stakeholders about your findings and show them your roadmap. This will help everyone buy into your mission and see where they fit in the journey.

Remember to take your time during these first few steps. The more thought and effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Without a solid roadmap, you may end up off the path and get left behind.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Put Humans First

The best way to future-proof your business is to continue to put people first. In a day and age where technology and AI change daily (for good and bad), people are drawn to authentic solutions with real faces behind the screen. Having a human-centered business strategy will always ensure you are on the right track for future success. But this must be more than just a slogan on a coffee mug—it should be implemented in every aspect of your business strategy from start to finish. Here are a few steps for doing this the right way:

  • Know your audience. Obviously, you need to know who you’re talking to and how to talk to them. However, creating a human-centered focus on business efforts should go even deeper. You should use buyer personas to understand where they live, how old they are, what they do for work, what problems they face, and what they’re searching for online.
  • Create content that speaks directly to them. The last thing you want is for your audience to scroll past your content with a feeling of dread. This happens when the content you create focuses too much on your business, your quarterly numbers, your partnerships, etc. They are following your content for two main reasons: They want to feel informed on the issues that they’re experiencing or they want to be entertained. If you focus on those two points, you’ll see higher engagement across the board.
  • Avoid spam. No one likes receiving spam mail, but most people will still send it out. Always put yourself in your customer’s shoes before emailing them, calling them, or using any other form of communication. If you would throw it in the spam folder, they probably would too!

Higher People Smarter Than You

Diversity of thought

As a leader, you should never be the smartest person when you walk into every room. By hiring experts in their field, you’re allowing your team to lead and offer valuable solutions that you may have never thought of. Of course, you can be the visionary of the company, but by having people smarter than you on your team, you’re building a company that will have a more powerful legacy when you’re done. Plus, your customers will be better off and will choose you as their provider when the product is superior to others. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved. Here’s what to look for when it comes to growing your team:

  • Find the go-getters. A lot of skills can be taught, but personality traits and character are much more important. It’s crucial to find people who are willing to learn, listen, and lead. If you find people who can do all three of those things and do them well, you’re team will grow and develop in no time.
  • Trust your team and assist when needed. There is no sense in hiring people who are smarter than you and then micro-managing their work. As long as trust has been built, let them produce great solutions and express their own goals and desires to make the business succeed. Remember, that you can learn from your team just as much as they can learn from you.

You can’t do everything…nor should you.

Plan for Success

There is no future-proof solution that can be done in a single day. It can’t be consumed in one YouTube video or even read in one blog post. It’s a process that develops over time. But if you begin your business with the end in mind, put humans first, and hire people smarter than you… you’ll be set up for decades of success and leave an impactful legacy for generations. 

The most important thing is to just start! We dare you to take 2 minutes right now and block out a section on your calendar to start dreaming and planning for success.

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David Loughney
About David Loughney:

David Loughney is passionate about helping brands find and express their voice in the world of social media. He helps to strategize and facilitate social media content to gain brand awareness, increase engagement and generate leads for your business.

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