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The world around us is changing. Every new technology and consumer trend brings with it new opportunities and challenges. Faced with these changes, how can you ensure your company stays relevant and on-brand? The answer is—create a future-proof business.

But, what makes a business “future-proof?”

Future-proofing your business isn’t just about adapting to meet the trends of this moment but also building an organization that changes with the times. A future-proof business evolves to meet tomorrow with the strength to amplify success.

It may sound complicated, but future-proofing a business doesn’t have to be. What it does require is a strong sense of what the future holds and what your business will need to do to stay competitive. Ultimately, being future-ready can lead to cost savings, better customer experiences, more agility, and financial success.

So, how do you get started? Here are five ways to future-proof your business and stay ahead of the curve.

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01—Listen to customers.

Today, it’s easy for customers to voice their opinion on brands they love (or loathe). Successful companies listen to their customers – on social media, review boards, and other channels – and use that feedback to future-proof their business.

Why should you listen to your customer? How reliable are their views?

Research shows us that customers are one of the best indicators of how an organization is doing and where they’re headed. Customer feedback can provide the answers to help you:

  • Stay ahead of the competition.
  • Make product improvements.
  • Improve customer loyalty.
  • Highlight necessary changes.
  • Identify market trends.
  • Spot customer preferences.
  • Create new products and services.

What’s the best way to jump in and start listening?

Start with the right tools. Try using polls, market research, questionnaires, focus groups, and other innovative software. Remember, your customers won’t always have the answers to help you be future-ready. Still, they can provide invaluable insights to help your brand create an actionable strategy to reach your goals.

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02—Take time for research.

You don’t want to be surprised when future trends impact your brand. A future-proof company needs a strong brand strategy to avoid future pitfalls and navigate uncharted waters. Short of a crystal ball, how can you plan for tomorrow’s challenges? Start with market, brand, and product research.

Why make time for research?

Brand and market research can help you assess the current state of your company and analyze how you can move forward and thrive. Research can help identify opportunities and threats lurking around the corner and guide you in developing a strategy to move forward.

Stay one step ahead of the competition with research into current market trends, consumer expectations, and new technology so that you can chart new paths forward as a stronger, more agile brand.

03—Charge forward with innovation.

If 2020 taught the business world anything, it showed us that –anything can happen, and the businesses who aren’t afraid to innovate are the ones that respond better and go further. Studies show that the brands that embraced innovation and agility as core business principles performed better during the COVID-19 crisis than those that didn’t. It’s hard to avoid the truth–innovation is critical in order to be future-proof.

It’s challenging to change operations quickly, and it can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Innovative practices can start with small incremental changes that can impact your business in a dramatic way.

For example, you can start by revisiting what you’re currently doing and update and make changes as needed. These updates can be new systems, tools, strategies, people, or technologies. Ultimately, you need to think about how your business operates and what improvements can be made to ensure you remain flexible, nimble, and future-proof.

Brands that don’t innovate get left behind. Don’t get left behind. Instead, embrace innovation.

One result of future-proofing a business is that you can build deeper bonds with existing consumers.

04—Find your purpose and lead with it

Consumers are demanding more out of companies. They want products they love, but consumers also want brands to make a positive contribution to society and address social issues. Purpose-driven brands are attracting customers and growing their bottom line.

Consumers are drawn towards purpose-driven brands and future-proofing a business shows consumers you are invested in your brand’s long-term goals.

If you want to keep customers in the future, you need a purpose. New findings show that when someone considers a company “purpose-driven,” they are 75% more likely to trust the company and 71% more likely to buy from that company than a competitor. What does this mean? Well, having a purpose can pay off.

Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.

– Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock

So what can you do to lead with purpose?

  • Clearly define your purpose. To build a purpose-driven brand, you need to decide what your purpose is. What drives your business? What problems do you solve? Why is this important?
  • Don’t make it a marketing tactic. Consumers can see right through marketing gimmicks that are just about raising profits. Commit to a purpose, make it part of your business strategy, and engage with the community.
  • Share your purpose consistently in your messaging. However you choose to tell your brand story, keep it consistent. Your purpose should be clear across all platforms, touchpoints, and communications.
  • Put your purpose into action. Don’t just talk to the talk, but commit to acting on your purpose. This may mean donating funds, supporting charities, or making business changes to show impact.

To future-proof your business, find your purpose and make it part of how you do business. With a purpose, you can build deeper bonds with existing consumers, expand your reach to new consumers, and enlist these forces to be your brand advocates.

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05—Invest in people and value talent.

The workplace is changing rapidly, and hiring the best talent (and retaining it) is challenging for many companies. Automation is changing how businesses run operations, and the talent you needed yesterday may not fit today. To future-proof your business, it’s essential to rethink your talent strategy and recognize that talent may be scarcer than capital. What does this look like in practice?

First, recognize that talent is not just about the job application process or being a “nice place to work.” The right people in the right roles add long-term value to a company. Talent support is just as important as revenue support. When you get the right people in, that’s where innovation can happen and the best talent will future-proof your company with their momentum of ideas and performance.

To be a future-ready company, look to answer these questions—

  • What talent do you need?
  • How can you attract and retain that talent?
  • What can you do to manage talent most effectively to deliver on your goals?

Hiring talent isn’t solely about compensation or benefits packages, but about the work environment, you create. Fostering a diverse and inclusive environment has to be part of your talent strategy. This influences whether employees stay and grow or leave which ultimately affects a company’s bottom line. A recent global survey found that 39% of job-seekers reported turning down jobs at companies after feeling that the organization was not inclusive. To future-proof your company, it’s time to look at how your company can lead and support an attractive work environment that retains talent and helps them and your business thrive.

Are you a future-proof business?

There’s no way of knowing what the future holds. But, there are pivotal ways you can strengthen your brand and make it future-ready for whatever lies ahead. Above all, it’s about being innovative, resilient, and open to changing the way things are done today to pave the way for success in the future.

At Rebel, we partner with ambitious brands to achieve profitable and sustainable growth. Let's chat about the market and brand research you need today to be a future-proof business for tomorrow.

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