Whether you're in your first few years as an entrepreneur or have been running your own company for decades, the chances are you'll have seen a lot of things change.
The economy has gone through numerous shifts, each seemingly more dramatic than the last. New tech means that offices are unrecognizable from even just a few years ago. Even what makes staff tick has changed thanks to a new Millennial workforce who have different priorities to their predecessors.
When you consider all these things, it's no wonder that business strategy has also had to change. Here are some of the main things I've noticed...
1. Putting employees first
More than ever, businesses are waking up to the fact that finding and retaining the best employees is an essential part of their strategy. The measures I take to keep my staff happy are certainly above and beyond what I received when I first started out.
We're also having to think about the wants and needs of a millennial workforce. While salary and financial benefits drive millennials' choice of company more than anything else, "getting a sense of meaning from my work", "flexible working" and the "impact the company has on society" also score highly1 . All things worth bearing in mind if you're looking to attract millennial graduates into your company.
2. Digital demands
There's no denying that we live in an increasingly digital world and businesses have had to change their strategies to reflect this - fast. It's no longer enough to just think how you offer your products and services to prospective customers; going digital impacts:
- Marketing efforts - most people now view websites on their phone, so having a mobile-friendly site is a must
- How you communicate with clients and how they communicate with you! Think of all the customer service now taking place on social media, especially Twitter.
- Your internal processes and admin - there are now so many apps that can help you with all aspects of running your business.
I'll admit I've still got a long way to go before I can consider myself full 'digitized', but the changes I have made mean my business is much more productive and efficient.
3. Adapt or die
Keeping with the theme of 'change', businesses today need to ensure that their strategy is flexible and that they are in a position to take advantage of new opportunities. This can be a tricky one - if you're anything like me you'll have a very clear idea of where you want your business to go and veering from this can take you out of your comfort zone.
Being adaptable and willing to change direction can pay off in the long run - just ask Nintendo, The Gap and PayPal - all businesses that started out with very different strategies to the ones that helped them make their name.
As a tactic, this can also work as evidenced by all the businesses making the most of the recent Pokémon Go sensation.
4. Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration
Collaboration is the new competition, or so I've heard. Thanks to improvements in technology, networking has never been easier and this brings with it greater opportunities to work closely with businesses in your sector and those that complement it.
Making strategic alliances can really help your business to reach its full potential. I've mentioned it before, but this is something my gym has really nailed. It works with other like-minded local businesses - cocktail bars, cafes and women's fitness wear, to name a few - to pool resources and knowledge without stepping on each other's toes. From what I can see, it results in more customers all round!
1 Deloitte, "The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey". 2016