Hacking Your Future is a free weekly memo that provides readers with practical and applicable tips for uncovering their future success. Readers are challenged to re-imagine their personal and professional narratives, goals, and objectives, and re-invent their lives and work in a manner consistent with their new vision of the future.
This weeks focal point: Last friday I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of family business owners about how to create continuous growth and ensure their future relevance. Before we discussed future relevance, I asked them the following three questions about where they are today:
- What distinguishes your business from the competition?
- What specific needs / issues / obstacles is your business addressing?
- What is the unique value that you bring to your customers / clients, making you relevant in today’s market?
After hearing from each person in the room I asked them to answer the following question:
When you consider the factors that make you valuable today, how confident are you that these factors will be relevant 5, 10, or 20 years in the future?
Very few in attendance felt confident that the value they provide today would continue to be relevant in the future. Several of them felt that automation and technology were rapidly encroaching on both their market and their ability to distinguish themselves from the competition. One such example came from an attorney who specializes in succession and estate planning for closely held private companies. He talked about how social media such as the Youtube™ “how to” videos and DIY companies like Legal Zoom™ are changing the way clients and prospective clients see the value that he provides. This is but one example of the challenge facing family businesses and SME’s, in which customers are valuing price and convenience over unique expertise and personal touch.
This is why it is more important now than ever before to identify early signs of emerging shifts and changes in the business landscape. Large and once prominent organizations such as Blockbuster, Circuit City, and Borders Books either failed to see the early warning signs or they chose to ignore them altogether. Once you’re able to identify these early signs of disruption you have the advantage and the opportunity to get out in front of these changes, positioning yourself and organization for continued growth and future relevance. Now is the time to consider what distinguishing factors will make your business valuable in 5, 10, or 20 years.
The Fulcrum: Identifying early signs of potential shifts and disruptions is only half the battle. The real challenge is deciding what you’ll do with this information. Will you act on it or ignore it?
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