Predict problems? It sounds like the stuff of fantasy—or at least psychics. The reality, however, is that as a business owner you need some kind of sixth sense for issues within your company. Although you can’t exactly predict the future, you can set up an infrastructure that will help you address issues as they arise or, perhaps, stop them from cropping up at all.
Subtle changes with the way you approach your workflow, as well as your workforce, can make a huge difference in the long run. Some require a shift in mindset, which doesn’t cost anything; others require a little capital investment. However, upfront costs can be worth it.
These four ideas are foundational, but use them as jumping off points to help ready your company for tricky situations:
1. Start small
First, it’s worth noting that many businesses fail because they come up with a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t need solving or doesn’t even exist at all. One way to avoid this scenario is to do your homework, including market research, and speaking to your target demographic. Do they actually want what you’re making? Be certain.
Next, as you roll out your product or service, design prototypes and small sample sizes. Maybe that means testing that your waterproof packaging is actually waterproof before your customers come back and complain that it’s not; maybe that means having a group of free or reduced-fee customers play around on your beta platform before debuting your service.
2. Talk to people
But don’t talk to just “any people”—talk to your people. Make sure the lines of communication are open in your business. If you don’t know what’s actually happening within your organization, you won’t be able to see potential issues and anticipate complications that could arise as a result.
Additionally, not being tapped into all the parts of your company means situations that could easily be contained may spiral out of control before you’re even able to touch them. In this case, what you don’t know can hurt you.
In business, diversity matters for so many reasons—and it has for a very long time. But in the case of predicting and solving problems before they happen, surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people is vital.
As much as you might like to believe otherwise, you see the world through your own lens. You can clearly see some problems and the solutions you think they necessitate, but that means others fall by the wayside. Colleagues and advisers with diverse backgrounds, ages, and experiences will help you to predict problems you might not have considered otherwise, and also address them with alternative solutions.
4. Keep up-to-date
With things like fraud or security (which are certainly big problems!). Keeping your business current can be expensive, but the investment is worth it for you to get out in front of these kinds of problems. Here, being proactive, instead of reactive, is the best solution—especially because reactive solutions are expensive.
Sure, you’ll never be able to solve every problem before it occurs. And, hey—that’s okay. But if you’re able to mitigate some of your issues before they become too big, and implement solutions that please both your employees and your customers, you will be in a fantastic position. Some might even ask how you figured out how to predict the future!