When we are talking about sustainable businesses, we mean companies that are designed in a way that they can create market trends in their specific niche.
We all know that markets can change rapidly and often without much notice – and if you run a business, you should keep an eye on what is going on out there. Not just concerning your business but in relation to a broader market your business is part of.
I have been on the receiving end of missing market trends and changes and had to pay a very high price for my ignorance. Let me give you nine tips you should consider to avoid falling into the same trap. These points are not in a defined order. Just pick one and work with it and you will be far ahead from the rest.
1. Keep watching your market
“I do!”, you might say. But do you? What are you actually watching? For businesses, the first indication that their market is changing is when they realise that the margins are going down or customers start cancelling their orders. By that time, you’ve already missed the train. Reacting to the market is a difficult game. The idea here is to identify new possibilities and to test how they could work in your market. It’s about being proactive.
2. Get an intrapreneur
Depending on the size of your company and the resources available, it might be a good idea to employ an ‘intrapreneur’. An intrapreneur is a person with a strong entrepreneurial mindset working in your organisation to find new business opportunities. This works best if the intrapreneur has access to the resources of your business without being confined by your business and its practices.
3. Become the best in your niche
I think that goes without saying. If you can’t be the best in your niche, dig deeper. This isn’t always easy, but vital. Pick one area you want to be best in and make sure you get it. Being in a leading position in your niche gives you the power to influence that niche, and it reduces the risk when applying new business models.
4. Invest in change
The one thing that I can guarantee to any business is that it will change. Change is the one constant you can rely on. For many, that is a scary outlook but, let’s face it, that is what business is about. You might not be the best in your market yet, but there is a very high chance that this is going to change. Being sustainable is about being able to change. The difference is in changing because you want to, not changing because you have to.
5. Simplify all areas of your business
Simplify, simplify, simplify! It says it all. Complex processes are difficult to adjust when needed. Get the team leaders in your business to look for ways to streamline any of the processes which are currently in place while keeping the quality above your required standards. The easiest way I found to do this is by playing the “What-if?” game.
You introduce different scenarios and see how the teams can deal with this. By doing so, you will discover the areas and processes which are most impacted by the change, and you can keep working on those. Another side effect is that it keeps the teams on their toes. If you tie this to a reward system, you can receive amazing results.
6. Learn to use the Business Model Canvas
If you never heard of the Business Model Canvas from Strategyzer, find out about it today (https://www.strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas). This is probably the best tool you could ever use to stay ahead and plan for change in your market.
It’s about identifying the core products and services of your business and understanding the relationship and impact on your customers, partners, profits and costs while being able to play with different scenarios and seeing the changes needed. It’s highly recommended!
7. Stay curious about new markets and opportunities
Even if you are the best in your market, you should never stop looking at other opportunities. I can’t say this often enough. Take the blinkers off and look around. Pick a market furthest away from your market and figure out how your business – or parts of it – could be of value in that market.
What would you need to do to get into that market? Who is the leader in that market? What would be your value? Keep asking these questions. You never know what opportunity awaits around the corner.
8. Consistently build great products and services with your customers in mind
Let’s face it, being Number 1 in your market requires you to create great services and products. But what does this mean? Many companies fall into a release trap. They feel they must release updates or new versions of their products every year to stay ahead. But do you? Why?
I guess it depends on what you measure and what your market measures. If you’re into computers, you will fall into that straight away. Releasing the latest technology every year is part of the business. This doesn’t mean your customers want that. Think about how would a product or service look like that creates excellent value to customers in the long run. I could go into this much more in-depth. So let me know if you want to talk more about it in the comments below.
9. Be bold and stay true to your principles
Being sustainable and working with change requires you to step into a puddle from time to time. Don’t be scared to get things wrong. But most importantly make sure you stay true to your principles. This is your brand and your customers. Trust is created by being consistent and clear about your intentions and the reason you’re in business. This should never change.
I hope some of these tips will point you in the right direction to build your sustainable business. If you want to discover more about how you can prepare your business for future change, drop me a note in the comments box below.