A few weeks ago the source of all wisdom for micro-businesses, Flying Solo, and I did a webinar on Future Proofing Your Business.
During the presentation we looked at the big trends that will affect business over the next decade with a focus on some of the demographic, economic and technological changes that are happening today.
The technologies are evolving rapidly and some of those we focused on as being business changing are the driverless car, automation, robotics, the internet of things and cloud computing.
As with all good presentations we took as many audience questions as possible and the feedback was particularly pointed on one topic, “given the degree of automation, where do the jobs come from?”
Finding the jobs of the future
While to some it might be surprising to hear this from a business audience, it’s very much a valid question given most of the solo operators tuned in are in consulting type roles that will probably be eliminated or affected by algorithms or robotics, if not outsourcing through o-desk, Airtasker or similar services.
Exactly what will be the jobs of the future is a difficult question to answer as predicting what tomorrow will look like is a fraught task, predicting in 1990 that web designers and online analytics would be a growth field ten years later is a good example.
A changing economy
What we can be sure of though is that business and employment does change and evolve around technological advances. The third slide of the presentation shows Sydney’s Circular Quay in the 1920s.
The economy though was still predominantly farm based, in Australia around a quarter of the workforce were in agriculture – in the US 27% of the population were farmers – in both countries today it’s below three percent.
All of those displaced eventually found jobs, although the transition costs were great as John Steinbeck documented in the Grapes of Wrath.
Free your mind and the rest will follow
So the key to future proofing your business lies in not being one of Steinbeck’s Oakies and that requires a mental shift, we need to be data literate and deploy the tools that mean our companies are more responsive to changing markets.
One of the keys to business survival in a changing world is to use the right tools, particularly cloud computing services some of which I’ve listed below.
We only touched on a small number of ways that the world is changing, for instance the image illustrating this post is Microsoft’s Holo Lens and we haven’t mentioned Virtual Reality at all. The key is to keep an open and flexible mind.
One of the biggest costs for business is the software for writing letters and working on spreadsheet. There’s free and paid for services that you can use on the cloud that cut your costs and increase your office productivity.
There’s plenty of free, or cheap, tools to get your name out on the web. Don’t forget to register you business name’s domain though.
In a crowded world good design matters, Canva is a good quick way to get a good looking logo and graphics for your business.
One of the greatest challenges for small business is doing their books and accounting software is a must have for every commercial operation. Online services reduce costs and increase flexibility for businesses of all sizes.
Customer Relationship Management
CRM software helps you monitor and understand who your customers are and what you’re doing for them.
Backing up is critical for your business. Having an online automated backup helps you ensure essential data is safe.
Sharing files with others helps your business be more efficient as teams can get work done without using the same computer.
Voice over IP, or VoIP, is a massive cost saver and most of them are cloud services.
Running and managing projects is a complex task made much easier with a good project management program to keep track of tasks and time.
Cloud computing and online services are making outsourcing possible for small businesses. With a browser and a credit card, you too can be in the outsourcing business.