30. Peter Drucker in his own words interpreted for small business 2
” The best way to predict the future is to create it”. It sounds like a bit of a tall order for a small business. But small businesses are often the agents for change in a market. Small businesses will find the unregarded niche which larger companies have ignored, and develop it into something significant, or the new angle on service which changes the way things are done. Look for instance at the change on our High Streets from the coffee culture of recent years, all started by small companies some of which, like Starbucks, have become significant international businesses. At a later stage, larger groups have bought in, but the future in that case – as in so many others – was started by small business.
Not that ambitious? Much of the most successful change that takes place is hardly noticed because it is incremental and gradual; the future can be created imperceptibly – in fact, in nature that is what happens most often. And indeed research in business has shown that companies that stick to what they know best and develop incrementally over all have a higher success rate than those that develop completely new ideas. A perfect example of incremental development is Toyota, who focus on this intensely with all their satff and incorporate thousands of changes each year in their cars. Their excellent record for quality and reliability is at least in part due to this continuous improvement process.
So how can you – or your staff – improve the product and/or service you give to your customers? Well, small innovations can make a big difference. And lots of small improvements can add up to something which your customer sees as new and different. And even if the developments are not original, they can still help create the future for your business. The small things are important, the smile, or the helpful handling of a problem can have a big impact on how your business is seen in comparison with others.
Lessons for the small business:
1. Know and keep close to your market so that you are sure you are providing what is still wanted, and that the market is not changing without you noticing it – and this includes understanding what your competitors are doing.
2. Look for trends that you can exploit to attract more customers and keep those you have. This is where you can create the future most dramatically.
3. Look for ways to challenge the accepted way of doing things, if there is a benefit for your customer.
4. Look for new ways to improve your customer’s experience with the business, especially looking to create more than satisfaction, which can be taken for granted (although it is so often not what is given) but delight that the customer will want to talk about.
5. Look for unregarded niches where your product or service could be particularly relevant and check whether there is enough potential that you can find a way to reach to create a new segment.
6. Look for ways to make sure your customers and potential customers find out about all this. If they don’t notice, then you have achieved nothing!
Predicting the future is impossible – you can make an informed guess at best. And of course, some of these will be right, but most will be wrong when there are so many variables. But can you take control rather than be driven by external factors and change the future for your business?