Ask SCORE: plan ahead and embrace change

Though days still have 24 hours, and years are guaranteed to have no fewer than 12 months, it sometimes seem as if the world is turning faster and faster. Patterns, trends, and technologies that felt rock-solid last year can spike in a different direction at a moment’s notice.

With the right approach to planning, small businesses can thrive amid this hectic environment. Indeed, it’s critical to constantly look ahead and seek out ways to keep pace and anticipate what’s on the horizon. Learning how to foresee these trends can help keep you current on everything from sales strategies and customer partnerships to technology tools and the general economy. And, the more you test the winds of change, the better your chances of success down the road.

Staying on top of trends means staying connected. Though it’s easy to be overwhelmed with information today, you can filter out the clutter using customizable tools which monitor the Web for new content about developing news stories, industry activity and local events in which you are interested. Groups such as your local chambers of commerce or professional/trade organizations frequently update members and the public on key trends and issues affecting regions and/or industries. They also sponsor conferences, seminars and expert speakers who offer the latest information and insights. And, because these events are also great forums for networking, you can exchange observations with colleagues who are tracking other business metrics.

At the same time, don’t make a snap decision just because you overhear someone talking about it. Flexibility is critical in today’s business environment; however, so too is careful risk management. Investing time in research about a particular trend or opportunity will pay off with a more informed, more confident course of action.

Though entrepreneurs should always be prepared to embrace new ideas or approaches, there’s still a lot to be said for sticking to the basics. Even with all of the shifting trends, there are guiding principles which are time tested and always current.

Stay focused on quality with the products and services you offer your customers.
Be honest in how you handle your business and always tell the truth. Assure that your business decisions and your choices simply feel right. If something you are about to do doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Sometimes, we just have to step back from all of the analysis and simply go with our gut.

For additional planning help for your small business, contact the local SCORE office in Gainesville at 352-375-8278, and online at http://northcentralflorida.score.org. Or, contact Doug Crotty, Media Contact for SCORE at 352-213-2555, or doug.crotty@scorevolunteer.org.

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