While the global economy appears to be in the midst of steady and welcome growth, there are suggestions that we may be set for a period of financial volatility. The portents for austerity are even prevalent in thriving economies such as the UK, where financial confidence levels among businesses fell to their lowest level since 2013 and commercial lending also sunk to new depths. This means that entrepreneurs will face several challenges during the remainder of the year, as they look to consolidate and sustain their venture successfully.
Identifying and responding to key business challenges
While every business and market sector will face its own unique challenges, there are some global concerns that ventures must overcome if they are to succeed this year.
Consider the following: –
The speed of change and technological innovation
This challenge is universal across almost all business sectors, as technological advancement and innovation continues at a relentless and gathering pace. The statistics underline this, with the smartphone user base increasing to more than 1 billion during the last 16 years and likely to climb beyond 6 billion by the year 2020. Similarly, while it took firms such as EBay 15 years to reach 100 million users, brands such as Google, Facebook and more recently Spotify have achieved this in less than a year.
These figures highlight the pace of change and the rise of fluid marketing mediums such as mobile and social media. It is imperative that your business recognises this and subsequently adapts its infrastructure to optimise the use of these channels. Having a quick-loading website that is optimised for mobile devices is integral, for example, as is the need for an integrated social media presence that enables you to reach an optimal number of targeted and motivated customers.
The loss of clients and custom
This is another universal business issue, and one that can occur for two primary reasons. Statistics show that 6% of UK company insolvencies occurred after a major client became insolvent themselves, and even in a thriving economy we have seen a relatively high number of businesses fail. Your business must also content with an increasingly open and accessible market, where intense competition and consumer choice means that firms are always vulnerable to the loss of custom.
While these factors are decidedly diverse, the result is the same. Your business must be prepared to cope with a loss of custom, or preferably adopt a proactive approach and ensure that you develop a keen sense of loyalty among your existing consumers.
Precise targeting is crucial, as this ensures that your marketing campaigns are efficient and reach as motivated an audience as possible. You should look to use thought leadership and insightful blogging to create the entry point into a relationship with customers, winning their trust and engagement in the process.
Above all else, invest in your customer service reinvent it as a viable marketing opportunity. More specifically, train your employees to converse with customers when they are engaged with the brand and utilise this as a promotional platform.
The increasingly empowered employee
While customers may be more knowledgeable and selective than ever before, it is important to remember that these individuals also serve as our employees. Those that have grown up in the digital access have instant access to incredibly insightful data and knowledge, making informed decision making easier than ever before. As a result of this, we are seeing inflated of employee turnover and a battle for top industry talent that is more intense than ever before.
In order to win this battle, you need to understand the changing nature and motivation of the modern workforce. Staff members are longer satisfied by salary alone, with many more likely to prioritise understated factors such as progression, job security and flexibility. This is also supported by the rising number of independent contractors in the western world, with an estimated 40% of the American workforce expected to operate as freelancers by the year 2020.
This underlines how technological advancement and an increased knowledge base have changed the outlook of employees, affording them choice and flexibility in the process.
You must react to this by developing flexible working directives (where possible) and creating a diverse package of employment benefits that appeal to the modern worker.
Author: Lewis is a blogger and entrepreneur from the UK. He writes for sites such as Career Addict and Life Hack, while he also operates a small business venture called Link Through Words. Follow him on Twitter @LewisRHumphries