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Principles for Healthy Business Finances – Keep up with the times

It seems clear that the key to any long-standing business’ success is staying relevant to the times it’s operating in. No business wants to be left behind, but if you fail to innovate this is exactly what may happen. If you find that your market is getting smaller, then it may be time to reinvent and adapt.

Many of us will have heard of the Charles Handy analogy of the frog in the jar of cold water that will not move and allow itself to be boiled to death when the heat is applied slowly to the water. Granted it’s not a particularly pleasant image, but it does suit the point quite well. Keeping up with the ever evolving and shifting business world is essential to ensure continued success and to avoid the fate of the poor old frog (figuratively speaking, of course).

At some point, you will need to invigorate your company

As business people, we don’t operate in isolation and it is important to keep abreast of any changing developments in your industry and others. Invigorating the company and bringing in fresh new ideas will help you to keep up with your competitors. Better than that, you may even become a major mover in your sector!

The way I achieve this is by trying to meet a minimum of three key people in the financial services industry every year. I ask questions about the sector’s future, including the direction it’s heading and important changes we should be aware of. I then feed these conversations back to my colleagues before adjusting our business accordingly. Of course, we’d all like a crystal ball to see into the future but in the absence of that, looking to some important people within your field to find out the lay of the land for the upcoming months or year is a good place to start.

Reinvention has always been key to profitable, well-established companies

It’s this adaptation that ensures they are still around today. Suzuki and Nokia are two international companies that demonstrate this excellently.

It’s hard to imagine Nokia as anything other than a successful mobile phone manufacturer. However, the company was originally a 19th century, Finnish, ground wood pulp producer before diversifying into various other industries including electricity generation, rubber production, paper products and military technology. The result of all that reinvention means that today, Nokia is a global leader in 5G, networks and phones.

Suzuki wasn’t involved in the motor car industry at all to begin with. The company started out in the early 20th century building weaving looms for Japan’s silk industry, and later for imported cotton. With the decline and subsequent collapse of the cotton market in 1951 the business saw an opportunity to enter the small motorcycle market. Demand for cheap personal transport was at an all-time high in post-war Japan and by 1954, Suzuki were manufacturing 6000 motorcycles a month. You don’t need me to tell you how successful the motor vehicle manufacturer has gone on to become since then.

What could you do?

Now, over to you. What proactive steps could you take to ensure that your company is keeping up with the times? This could be anything from adapting your messaging to adding additional features to your website. Web chat functions, for example, could help to elevate your business by giving your customers an extra channel through which to reach you while increasing their time online to engage with your products or services. Look at hot topics across your industry; this could be anything from diversity to the latest technology innovations. Ask yourself what it is you need to make sure you are one step ahead in today’s fast-paced business world.

Next month, I’ll be looking at my ninth Principle for Healthy Business Finances: ‘Be motivated’. I look forward to sharing that with you then. In the meantime, don’t forget you can download the whole ‘Healthy Business Finances’ chapter free of charge here. See you next time!

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