The big buzzword at the moment is “future-proof”. All sorts of experts are sharing insights on the topic, particularly when it comes to future-proofing your business, in other words, making sure you remain relevant as your environment changes.

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Most experts agree that technology is the biggest threat to the future of any business. Yet it also presents the best opportunities to help you overcome those threats and move your organisation to the next level.

Of course, technology as a disruptor is nothing new. Ever heard of knocker-uppers, pinsetters or gong farmers? Believe it or not, these were actual jobs in days gone by — jobs that were made redundant by technology.

In England and Ireland, knocker-uppers acted as human alarm clocks until the mid-1930s, knocking on their clients’ windows until they saw that the client was awake. Pinsetters were young boys who worked in bowling alleys. They would clear fallen pins, reset the racks and send the balls back to bowlers. Gong farmers went from home to home in the dead of night emptying privies and taking the waste to farms where it was converted to fertiliser. Probably not the best jobs in the world, but in those days there wasn’t the option of becoming an app developer, project manager or social media strategist.

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What it all boils down to is basically two things — people and innovation. Get that mix right and you’ll be in business until the end of days. Here are some thoughts:

People

· Choose carefully who you work with. This applies to your team, suppliers, clients, partners … everyone in your value chain.

· Trust your gut. If someone seems dodgy, they probably are.

· Always work with people who are cleverer than you. They’re better able to help you meet your vision.

· Employ people you like and who embody what your business is about — then create a role for them. Remember, skills can be learnt, but a pillock will be a pillock until the end of days, no matter how good they are at their job. And nobody wants to work with a pillock. (Now ask yourself an uncomfortable question: “Am I the pillock?”)

Innovation

· Innovation is not about doing new things. Rather, it’s about doing old things in new ways — like waking people up in the morning, resetting the pins in a bowling alley and recycling waste.

· If you do it first, you’ll be copied. How flattering! Now, do something else that’s never been done before.

· Innovate within your business, too. Work smarter. Streamline your processes. Keep information flowing internally. This was exactly what lead us to developing Simplifyd over a year ago. We knew there had to be an easier way to run our sales pipeline, invoicing and to-dos without using and paying for 7 different products.

Finally, ask yourself another uncomfortable question: “Has my business changed over the past two years?” If your answer is no, then it’s time to shake things up. Embrace new things. Take risks. Re-invent yourself. Seek out new people to work with. Get uncomfortable — because the one place that’s definitely not future-proof is your comfort zone.


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