In the computer world we do our best to be proactive anticipating failures that might happen or are certain to happen. Technology has become very good with predictive analysis knowing when disks reach their expected end-of-life and servers to start needing multiple parts replaced. Remember the old TV ad tagline, “you can pay me now or pay me later”. Typically “later” is much more expensive not only for the repairs but for business and time lost due to an outage. Being proactive is not only for Information Technology. Most businesses will want to keep watch on changes and trends to design their own plans to weather storms that come their way.
A key indicator to watch is the economic environment. Depending on the business this may be locally, nationally or globally. Upticks in oil prices and availability may affect the cost of doing business especially where transportation plays a role. Another factor is supply chain interruptions. Where and what shortages are being forecasted? Are there other vendors that can be utilized to help reduce these impacts? The cost of food commodities can affect those in food services. Having a proactive plan for dealing with potential changes can mitigate the long-term impact to the business.
Competitive market changes may be proactively monitored too. If a new retail center is opening close by, watching the type of business moving in can give time to make appropriate competitive changes. A restaurant may want to update their menu or improve the dining experience if another is opening nearby.
Other influences on business include political and new regulatory mandates. Will new laws affect the ability to carry out business as usual? Will sales and revenues be affected and if so, what are options to regain market share? How about environmental impacts. Look at weather forecasts that may cause a slowing in store traffic. What can be done to encourage consumers to come out in the rain to your store? Watch road construction that may change traffic patterns around your location. Perhaps temporary signage is needed or well-placed advertisements informing the public you are still for business.
Where to document this planning? A business or operational plan is one place. A business continuity plan is another. Or simply have a proactive potential business interruption plan that can be reviewed at regular intervals is the answer.
Ted Saul is a business coach and writer that assists with Business Plans, Project Management and Career Management. He earned his MBA from Regis University along with a Masters in project management. Ted can be reached on LinkedIn or by emailing TedSaulbiz@gmail.com.