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Business Beat: Prepare for the Unknown

There’s a story told about the dangers of leadership. Yes, a general is supposed to be out in front of the troops and leading, but the general who gets too far in front runs the risk of catching fire from both sides. The moral is clear: Being ahead of the trends has benefits and risks!

Is the same true of business innovation?

Some of the topics of yesterday’s science fiction are becoming business reality. Autonomous vehicles are certainly in this category.

In the U.S., a major pizza chain is already developing a vehicle that will bring your delicious fresh meal to your door with no driver, and of course, no tipping cost to the consumer.

But taking this a step further, the vehicle may soon be cooking your pizza while on the road. Could we really get a fresh-from-the-oven pizza experience delivered to the door? We can, and it may not be long before trends like these enter our home marketplace.

So what does that mean for your business? This seems easy to ignore if you’re not in the food business, but that may not be a safe assumption.

A pizza that cooks itself while on the way to the consumer certainly changes the real estate and parking needs for the business owner. The entire supply chain may change, too.

A driverless vehicle traversing our streets also presents marketing opportunities for your business. A mobile billboard that smells good might just get some attention!

The plain fact is driverless vehicles are coming, and soon, but this is just one innovation. With any disruptive technology there are risks but there also are opportunities. The new year presents a good time to reflect but to also look forward to what might come.

Here are a few tips to help prepare for the unknown.

Look at the top business trends that experts are predicting for the next year, five years, and even 10 years. Would any of these put your company in a better position or at risk? Or worse, out of business? If the answer is yes, assign a rating scale of likelihood and decide if any of these trends require more of your time.

Review your business plan and see if you need to adjust it to top trends that are happening in your industry. A good business plan does not sit on the shelf, it is adjusted often.

Look at new technologies and if there are problems your business can solve — this is where new opportunities live.

No one has a crystal ball to predict the future, but the old leadership verbiage has truth that failing to plan, is planning to fail.

Here at the Entrepreneur Development Centre at Medicine Hat College we hope your business has a prosperous 2019 whatever the future may hold.

Mark Keller is director, College Advancement, at Medicine Hat College.

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