The Future Of Business And Work

future of business work futurism

The Covid-19 pandemic has created worldwide economic disruption affecting businesses of all sizes. Smaller companies, startups, and entrepreneurs are at particular risk of failing in these times, and yet may also possess the necessary agility to survive and even thrive. All business must meet the challenges of the current economic times and accommodate the changes in business practices brought about by the fourth industrial revolution. 

Every crisis breeds opportunities. The agility and adaptability of small companies can allow them to identify and rapidly transition into new market spaces. What are some of these challenges and opportunities? 

The Challenges Of This Economic Era 

Small and medium businesses face multiple challenges related to the pandemic. Even before transacting, they must stay on top of rapidly changing local regulations on which businesses may open and under what conditions. They also have to come up with policies to protect the health of their employees, suppliers, and customers. 

Businesses have to compensate for slower mail deliveries as the US Post Office and private companies struggle to keep up with rising demand for remote deliveries. This is just one part of adapting to supply chain disruptions and raw materials shortages that may not be easily apparent, as infection hotspots fluctuate around the world. 

Marketing strategy becomes vital to anticipate how customers' spending habits are changing from quarantining and economic recession. And businesses have to change their employee model to embrace working from home where possible, learning and retraining on new technology and systems. 

However, the Covid-19 pandemic is not the only issue pressuring small businesses. US businesses are changing due to social pressures and the rise of new technologies. For example, an overall increase of business digital presence across the board can result in more competition trying to reach the same customer base on social media. 

Increased automation in all industries will only continue to render many jobs redundant and force workers to adopt new skills. Re-skilling and learning or inventing new skills is coming to be the most desired trait in an employee. 

And concerns expand about the environmental impact of industries in every field, with the questionable sustainability of the natural resources the company relies on. All these factors, and many more, add to the pressure. 

Opportunities For Agile Businesses And Creative Thinkers 

Large and complex businesses tend to have a multi-layer, rigidly defined structure. This structure is necessary for stability, but stability comes at a price. It can take weeks or months for a new marketing idea to reach someone with the authority to sign off on it. During those months, a savvy startup may have identified the new needs of the market and taken full advantage. 

Small businesses are more vulnerable to the current economic crisis than larger corporations. Individuals left suddenly without a job are particularly vulnerable. But it's not a great shift in culture from the gig economy to the entrepreneurial economy, and there the trail is well blazed. 

Services for new businesses are abundant, and online of course - see how simply an individual can form an LLC in California, for example, or any state. 

Even small property investors can turn into landlords with a little online help. The key is innovation, which can carve a margin out of disruption by making new offerings out of the opportunities that arise. 

So what opportunities might exist for individuals, entrepreneurs, startups and small, agile businesses? 

Repurpose Your Existing Equipment 

Try to brainstorm new uses for an existing piece of equipment. For instance, some people with 3D printers have pivoted and now help produce equipment for local hospitals. Those same entrepreneurs could also market their services in more off-beat directions, such as printing custom board-game pieces. Board games have surged in popularity in recent years. This trend has only increased now that people are spending a lot more time indoors with their families. 

Try Consulting 

Your technical skills, experience in the local marketplace, and unique perspective may be in demand. For instance, if you know the ins and outs of popular video-networking software, you could help local companies that are transitioning to a work-from-home model. This might include setting up the software on employee home computers, teaching them how to use it, and troubleshooting issues. 

Teach Your Skills To Others 

This could be done via sites like Skillshare or Patreon. Site users pay a fee to access instructional videos. Success here comes from adding value. There may be a hundred other courses on how to give a Swedish massage, but you may be able to share your on-the-job experience in working around tricky cases like insulin pumps or diabetic nerve pain. 

Explore The Options In Your Local Market 

A network of small, complementary businesses can be much more robust in the face of a challenging economy. These local businesses can support each other, creating mutual growth and a better customer experience. For example, a food truck might buy supplies from local farmer co-ops. This allows the truck to offer a farm-to-table menu. Local companies may then hire that food truck to offer healthy, ecologically-conscious meals during lunch hour. 

Bring Goods And Services To Your Customers 

Larger businesses are already delivering to the customer, with restaurants the most notable example, offering curbside pickup and deliveries. But this can work on the smaller scale, and other goods and services can also be brought to your customer’s front door. This could include drop-in dog grooming, spa products, or liqueur and mixers delivery (as local laws allow). 

The Future Is Now

Small businesses are more vulnerable to the current economic disruption than larger corporations. However, they are also better equipped to adapt, evolve, or completely re-imagine their business plan. Connecting with customers and offering them value is a solid foundation that can help any sized company. The new ideas being born now can be as small- scale as the individual but also scaled up to serve greater markets. Generally, it's the innovation that will take the day.

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