The times continue to change, and with them the business landscape as well. Over the past quarter-century, the book of business success has been completely rewritten as both local and global companies have had to meet challenges, restructure operations, change their strategies and processes, hire more specific talent, and much more to remain competitive.
It hasn’t always been easy. In fact, many would argue that it hasn’t ever been easy. Consider how the business world worked in 1995. There were physical storefronts; industries that were analog-based; management models that, while they’d stood the test of time for many years, were quickly becoming outdated; and mass communication that still took place primarily via telephones, fax machines and snail mail.
But what if you’re starting a new business or company today, in 2020? What works and what doesn’t? In today’s marketplace, you still need the essentials: strong management, a good strategic plan, a superior product or service, a killer value proposition, excellent cash flow, efficient processes, and others that have always been part of business ownership. But there are some other things you’d be wise to consider. Here are five of them.
Have strong core values:
In other words, this means stating both publicly as well as to your employees what your company stands for. In June, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media wrote on her website that she realized something important as she was reflecting on her 10 years in business. “Until we clearly articulated our core values,” she wrote, “the business was in a state of constant frustration and flux. I wondered why our people weren’t living up to my expectations and why our clients were draining the life out of us — and why we had turnovers of both!” She added that Company values should be put in writing and put into action every day.”
Capitalize on the changing marketplace:
Christopher Kape is president of JAMCO Capital, a Vancouver-based venture capital firm he founded in 2001. The comapny provides financing and a wide array of consulting services to early stage businesses. For nearly two decades, he’s been working with companies, specializing in industries such as gaming, technology and wellness. He believes that entrepreneurs need to seee what’s going on around them and predict where to be in one, two and three years in order to properly capitalize on new ideas and trends. As the world went foodie, Kape had already invested in (and still serves as director of) multiple food businesses. When online sports betting became legal, something in the works for years, Kape already had a slew of companies in the industry and was able to divest at a substantial premium. It’s all figuring out what’s trending, getting involved and then striking while the iron is hot.
Get good at social media:
Perhaps more than anything else on the marketing side of business, social media has had the largest impact on how companies connect with their customers, converse with them and create awareness of what they’re doing. It wasn’t that long ago that terms like hashtag and SEO were still to be coined. And because it continues to change on what seems like a daily basis, understanding how to develop results-focused strategy and using social media effectively is a big must for every company today.
“Today, the best strategy for most businesses to create brand awareness and recognition is to build an online presence and leverage social media,” wrote Katie Lundin at Crowdspring, a marketplace for crowdsourced design work. “Social media is a direct line to interact with your customers on their turf.” She makes an excellent point. According to German online statistics portal Statista, there will be 3.02 billion social media users worldwide by 2021.
Be more detail-focused than ever:
Don’t look now, but things are moving quickly. While you’re developing your vision and watching the marketplace, it’s also important to pay close attention to the details of your business. So writes veteran business author Rhonda Abrams, whose bestselling book Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies was released in its seventh edition last year.
“In particular,” she advises, “keep a close eye on your financial situation. Find ways and choose tools that keep your eye on your financial resources and your bottom line.” She also suggests that entrepreneurs “automate as many payments as you can so they’re always made on time. Download mobile apps you have available from your accounting software programs, banks, credit cards, so you can easily and regularly check on your finances. Monitor how you send out invoices, deposit payments, pay bills so you make sure your internal processes are both safe and streamlined.”
We’re in an age now in which giving back — to your community and internationally — is not only good business but also the right thing to do. Christopher Kape recalls during the COVID-19 quarantine working with The Pie Hole, one of the companies for which he serves as director, to provide food to those affected by the quarantine. According to many successful entrepreneurs, giving back without expectation is a responsibility and even a privilege. This is something everyone can do.