12 Tips to Help 'Future-Proof' Your Business in Today's Uncertain World

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In business, often the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. You never know if your product will sell or if you’ll make enough money to last another year or if being an entrepreneur is really your true calling.

While no one can predict what tomorrow will bring, there are ways you can help to guarantee your business will remain successful no matter what the next day may bring. Below, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members offer their best tips for “future-proofing” your business and explain how these tips will help ensure your business is secure.

Establish an Agile Organizational Design

“SurThrival” requires adaptation and transformation. There is opportunity in crisis. One key is establishing an agile organizational design to best weather inevitable interruptions. Don’t wait until a crisis presents — or ends — to determine how to pivot and move a company forward. Strategize advance action for confronting new challenges in order to emerge from disruption stronger than before. – Merilee Kern, The Luxe List

Study Beyond Your Industry

I study outside industry news and join discussions that appear to have nothing to do with my work. I am often amazed at the helpful nuggets of information I extract to apply to my company or work plans. The world is so interconnected that security, technology, supply chain issues and consumer sentiment reflected in a completely different sector will inform how to maneuver in yours. Look outward. – Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University

Leverage Scenario Planning

I use scenario planning, which is a business exercise where you imagine multiple possible macro-level futures and then strategize how your business looks and functions in each given scenario. By strategizing on possible macro trends before they happen, you will have action plans in place to set you up for success across potential scenarios. Entrepreneurs must prepare for all possible outcomes. – Jessica Billingsley, Akerna

Focus on Cash Flow

Limit reliance on debt, and keep focused on cash flow. There has only ever been one reason why businesses have gone out of business, and it’s because they ran out of cash. All other problems can be reduced down to “lack of cash.” So, know your burn rate, create as much of a reserve as possible and develop contingency plans for when things don’t go according to plan — because they never do. – Kevin McGee, Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Listen to Your Customers

Keep listening to your customers and their feedback. They help make up your “secret sauce,” and, with their feedback, you can continue to improve your product, services and business and keep them as lifelong customers as well as gain new ones. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery

Foster a Flexible Mindset

Prophesying in regards to ensuring your business is sound and long-lasting is a lost art. However, a factor to consider is maintaining a nimble stance, allowing you to adjust your strategies and tactics to the changing terrain or environment. One aspect of that is fostering a flexible mindset for your team. They need to take in new information, apply it, let it go and then allow new ideas to come in. – Jahan Marcu, Marcu & Arora

Hire the Best Possible Team

I think the only true way to “future-proof” is by hiring and retaining the best possible team. When the unexpected occurs, when a business needs to pivot, when things seem doomed, your team has to come together and work through the impossible. If you put the right team together and build trust in the face of adversity, you can solve your way through any crisis. – Danny Gold, ZolTrain

Build Your Brand Online

You need to be building your brand online. There are multiple ways to do this, but the most important is building up your Google search results with organic articles and making people aware of your brand online. It’s a must if you want to make it in the next era. – Christian Anderson (Trust’N), Lost Boy Entertainment LLC

Bend Without Breaking

Be careful when future-proofing your business, as it’s easy to get stuck in the past. Time, technology and trends will always change; to be a contender, you must do the same. The secret to future-proofing is to be adaptable as well as flexible, and bend, but never break. Don’t be afraid to change your methods, approaches or processes, and pay attention to factors that influence your environment. – David Castain, David Castain & Associates

Prioritize Diversity

Make sure that you have a diverse team from different generations and backgrounds and that your team feels comfortable speaking up to leadership. Everyone will have a unique pulse on trends in their community, allowing your organization to better anticipate what may be coming, for better or for worse. It also builds trust when team members at all levels feel they can contribute to these conversations. – Lisa Buffo, Cannabis Marketing Association

Stay Informed About Trends

The best way to “future-proof” a business is to stay ahead of the competition by staying informed about current and upcoming trends. In doing so, you will always have your fingers on what’s happening in society as well as be able to predict which way things might go next. – Thomas Bresadola, Simplified Entertainment

Always Invest in Your Brands

Understand the evolving needs of your customers. Stay on top of the latest trends, listen to customers’ pain points and offer quality products and services that meet their needs. Lastly, and most importantly, never stop investing in your brands! Price will always be a key purchase consideration, but after that is trust and familiarity, which are the building blocks of brands. – Brad Canario, Auxly

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