When running a business, investing in the future is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Though it can be easy to only be looking five feet in front of you, especially if you’re a startup or are in the middle of a rebrand; industries evolve quickly. Therefore, if you want to continue to keep up with your competitors and have a consistently lucrative enterprise, staying ahead of the game will be a key contributor in doing so.
If you were to take an honest audit of all of the things you presently do to invest in your business, how much would you be able to come up with? For continued growth and success, it’s imperative that as you take your audit you consider all facets of your company. When most people hear the word invest, they automatically think of the financial aspects of a venture or establishment. While that is most definitely a major segment of your business, there are multiple ways to invest in the future of your organization. Here are some:
Research and Development
There are a few ways you can approach this…You can hire an internal employee to do research whether it’s their entire job or part of their job. Or, you can work with a consulting company that specializes in your industry to keep you updated on the latest industry trends. This well help you forecast how the market will be in the coming months or years, which will give you the opportunity to plan and make adjustments accordingly. You may just find yourself with information that surprises you or that you didn’t know was even a topic of conversation within your industry. Even though having a designated employee or company to do your research and suggest modifications will be an upfront investment, it is an expense that help your company reach its 5 and 10 year plans.
When things are working out well as they are, the easiest thing to do is keep everything the same. However, this “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it mentality” could be holding you back from making even more progress day-to-day than you already are. It may be a good idea to look into other businesses and companies within your industry to see what platforms and tools they may be using that help them keep pace. It is always intimidating to change your systems if they have been successful up until now, along with time consuming as you and your team will have to learn everything from scratch. This is why you must look at the bigger picture and be open to adapting. You will produce results quicker, therefore drive more business if you transform your processes and protocols.
Integrate New Technology
In a technology based world, this is inevitable. Yes technology is expensive, but it is also created to eliminate unnecessary work and streamline functions that need to be constantly addressed. Because it is a large investment, it’s in your best interest to be strategic about the type of technology and programs you use. Different industries use different makes and models of computers depending on if they are more creativity based or data based. In a warehouse setting, some machinery may need to be upgraded every few years, while other machines on the market haven’t changed nearly at all. Communication platforms are evolving almost daily and there are constantly new apps and programs that allow you to communicate virtually within a workspace. If you work in a fast paced environment or a place with dozens to hundreds of employees, investing in some of these platforms will take a lot of weight off of your shoulders.
Investing in Your Employees
Every year, turnover and employee mistakes cost companies thousands of dollars. This is why it is absolutely vital to ensure good employee morale, especially among your most valuable team members. There are so many factors in ensuring your employee morale stays high, including: training, appreciation, company culture, and promotion. The key to ensuring employee morale is that things have to happen on an ongoing basis. It is not enough to have a team pep talk every two months, or promote a few employees a year and call it good. You must make things like employee continuing education and appreciation a part of your model. This means setting aside funds specifically for that. As and owner or manager, ask yourself questions like:
*Is the office/site a welcoming space where people want to come to work every day?
*Do we have an employee incentive program or monthly events to show appreciation for our employees?
*What opportunities do we currently offer to make sure employees feel adequately trained and/or like they are regularly learning new skills?
*Are we promoting from within and offering room for growth and pay raises in our company?
Your answers to these questions will determine what areas you currently excel at and what areas could use some changes to make certain you are continuously investing in your people.
All of these investments are going to require both time and money, but if you are in your business for the long-haul, such improvements will catapult you forward so that your business meets the long term vision.
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