Will You Have A Business in 5 Years?

by Steven Hourston on May 29, 2012

10 years ago…

  • China’s economy was 3x smaller
  • No one spoke of “austerity”
  • Amazon was tiny
  • Google was a baby
  • Facebook hadn’t been born yet
  • Apple had just launched the iPod
  • Only half of us had mobile phones
  • Tesco didn’t deliver food
  • I couldn’t bank online
  • There were only 4 channels on my TV
  • And no one had heard of Simon Cowell…haven’t we progressed!

What will happen in the next 5 to 10 years…

  • How will your business and market change?
  • What new opportunities will you be able to exploit?
  • Most importantly what capabilities do you need to develop today, to position yourself for success tomorrow?

No one can predict the future. But we can prepare for it

  • We know the future will be different.
  • We know we’ll have to cope with new challenges.
  • We know our market and customers will change.
  • We know we’ll have to learn new skills and unlearn some skills we treasure today.

But do we know where to start?

One of the best business books I’ve read is Competing For The Future by Gary Hamel and C.K.Prahalad. It’s thought provoking. Best of all it poses some great questions. Questions that help us to prepare for the new challenges and exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Answering these questions could be the best investment you make in your future success and prosperity.

Don’t stand still

Their main point is that for your business to dominate your market in the future, you need to start developing new skills and competencies today. In their words “A company surrenders tomorrow’s business when it gets better without getting different. Defending today’s market is no substitute for creating tomorrow’s market.”

Think about these questions for your business…

In the last 10 years we’ve seen new entrants transform markets with more efficient or appealing solutions to customer problems. They develop new skills. They rip up the “rule book”. They apply new technologies. They move fast, testing, learning and testing again. This doesn’t just apply to huge well known companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Someone might destroy your business unless you get to the future first.

To dominate your market in the future, you need to start developing new skills and competencies today.

Looking at your business today:

  • What current competencies can you exploit?
  • What competencies do you have that are difficult for your competitors to copy?

The answer to these 2 questions may help you to spot some growth opportunities.

Do you constantly search for and invest in the skills and technology that will amaze your customers?

  • What do your customers really value about your products or service?
  • What do they value so much they’re happy to pay a premium?
  • What do they not value and are reluctant to pay for?
  • Will your customers willingly pay more for one product or service than another?
  • What emotions are triggered when they use your products or service?

The race for the future occurs in 3 distinct, overlapping stages:

  • Imagine the future
  • Shape the future
  • Prepare to compete in the future

What’s changing in your market?

  • How might this change influence our current customers?
  • How fast is it developing and what are the factors that may accelerate/decelerate the trend?
  • Who is moving to exploit this trend or causing it?
  • Who is in the driver’s seat, passenger, bystander?
  • Who has the most to lose or gain?
  • What new opportunities – products or services might be created?
  • What are your options for gaining further insight into the trend, so influencing its direction/speed or even intercepting it?

Build competencies, accumulate market learning – where is the mother lode of demand now, where will it be in 5 to 10 years?

The goal is not simply to be led by customers’ expressed needs; responsiveness is not enough.

The objective is to amaze customers by anticipating and fulfilling their unarticulated needs.

Apple have to be the exemplars of putting this into practise. Are you, or can you become the “Apple” of your market?

Are you a new entrant?

Now look beyond your market. Do your current and developing competencies, enable you to become the new entrant who transforms a market with more efficient or appealing solutions to customer problems?

Steven Hourston can help you to attract more clients and more sales with transformational marketing. Find out more about his unique membership service

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil May 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Time flies by. It’s only when you read a list like the one at the top of your article that you realise how much has changed in such a short time. I’ve tended to react to events and never really thought about shaping them or pro-actively positioning myself to take advantage of new innovations. Time for a rethink. Thanks. 


Steven June 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Hi Phil and welcome.

Doesn’t the speed of change seem to get faster and faster. We all need to pause sometimes and look at the bigger picture, or we could find ourselves racing towards a smaller and smaller business. Think of some of the giants who stumble, Kodak being the most recent. Thanks for your comment Phil, drop by again.


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