Thinking of starting a business? Entrepreneurship can be a risky venture—50 percent of small businesses don’t survive past five years. But, it is also rewarding—in fact, entrepreneurs are consistently reported to be happier (and healthier!) than employees.
How can you make your business a success story rather than a sobering stat? Successful entrepreneurs help ensure their business is in it for the long run by “future proofing” from the very beginning. It is impossible to know exactly what the future will hold, but companies that can change and adapt will be able to stand the test of time.
Here are three tips to help ensure your company will be able to thrive in changing times, regardless of its core business model:
Create a consistent experience for customers
What do customers value most in making purchases? A seamless browse-to-buy experience regardless of how you engage them or the technology you use in the process. Create a positive experience by confirming your technology works—and works for people—by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and building the business around their needs. And, most importantly, be reliably consistent in all communications—in person, online, or on the phone. Technology may decrease the need for a human interaction in some cases, but customer service should never become obsolete. As technology advances, consumers value a human voice more and more.
People and preferences change faster than any one person can keep pace with and so it is crucial to encourage your employees to continuously cultivate innovation and initiative. Regardless of a company’s size, researching novel ideas, industry trends, and marketing tactics should be a top priority. The most successful businesses over the long-term are the ones that connect the dots of opportunity.
Isolation in any regard holds a company back: an enterprise that isolates its influence and engagement to one demographic is less likely to be successful, now or in the future. As many different groups become more fluid and begin dipping into one another’s pools of knowledge, behaviors, and habits—such as baby boomers adapting to smartphones and e-commerce—the importance of appealing to a broad and diverse audience is growing.
Continuously improve all you do
For successful companies, “good” is never enough. By contrast, many failed businesses share a common trait—an inability to acknowledge the need for ongoing reevaluation, at all levels and with all people, including both employees and customers.
Listening to a company’s corporates, creatives, and customers can inspire more efficient processes and bigger, bolder ideas throughout all operations. Executives can encourage this by prioritizing training and education, as well as emphasizing research and a strong focus on the customer. Customer satisfaction surveys and consistent touch points with loyal customers also provide a glimpse of how your company is viewed externally—a helpful window and connection to the outside world.
Yes, entrepreneurship is about risk, but it’s one worth taking with the right plan in place now and in the future. In a rapidly changing business environment, it can be difficult to stay ahead of the curve. But by ensuring a positive customer experience, continually evaluating offerings and focusing on research and innovation throughout every phase of growth, you can increase the odds of success and help solidify a future for your company.
Jim Ayres is the managing director of Amway North America and oversees all business operations for the North American affiliate of Amway. He is responsible for driving revenue and profitability across the region through optimizing business operations in sales, Marketing, Supply Chain and Customer Service. Jim works closely with Amway Independent Business Owners (IBO) enhance partnership and ensure joint success.