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Future-proof your business during the teething stages

Article provided by Santam

When you take the plunge and start your own business, inevitably a feeling of euphoria follows! It’s good to be excited, but it’s also essential to start thinking ahead to future-proof your brand-new venture when the tough times hit. As it is commonly known, few businesses make it past the three-year mark. To survive the first 1001 days in operation, you need to know the risks and be ready for every challenge.

There are big risks associated with starting any business from the ground up, especially in the business’s infancy stages. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, there are plenty of opportunities – but also pressures – to bring in AI and advanced tech to scale quickly. However, as well as growth, you need to prioritise building resilience through smart future-proofing measures that mitigate risk and help you prep for tomorrow.

Philippa Wild, Head of Commercial Underwriting at Santam, shares some of the best ways to get your business Industry 4.0 ready and to ensure you survive and thrive, come fire, flood or data fraud:

Three ways to ‘future-proof’ your relevancy

1. Refine your customer journey

Customer-centricity is key to long-term business success, especially in an age of unprecedented transparency. Map out your customers’ current journey at every touch-point – from awareness- to post-purchase stage – then identify how you can streamline this to automate more of the admin and optimize the user experience (UX). Ask your clients and staff for input, conduct surveys, and test different solutions.

2. Think how you can adopt an omni-channel approach

Today’s tech-savvy clients like varying channels of communication. So a WhatsApp message may work better than a phone call or an Instagram DM (direct message) could trump an email.

3. Up your online visibility

Get active on relevant social platforms, consider diving into multi-media like video and think of how you can amplify the content you create. Remember, everything you produce needs to be highly professional. Consider whether to use paid media and advertising – like Facebook ads – to expand your audience reach. You can even tap into influencers to access their niche networks – think of Lulama Wolf, Cassandra Twala or Trevor Stuurman for example.

Five ways to ‘future-proof’ against risks

1. Keep company cars in excellent condition

Check tyre pressure and tread regularly, along with the front disc pads and rear brakes. Ensure the lights are working effectively.

2. Get ready for wind, water and hail

Clear the gutters of debris before the rainy season starts to avoid water damage. Replace any broken tiles and store any water-susceptible goods on pallets.  Trim trees of any branches that could wreck the roof. Check if your location makes you more susceptible to certain risks – you may be on a floodplain or in a forested region with high fire threat.

3. Fight the fire

Make sure you regularly check all electrical installations as these often cause fires. Service fire-fighting equipment annually.

4. Check your tech

What would happen if you suddenly lost all your customer data? Or had important information stolen? Make sure all employees know they need to do regular back-ups and frequently back-up the central server. Have an expert on-call should any problems occur.

5. Get business interruption insurance

When your business experiences property damage, this insures you against the resultant loss of any revenue/ profit. This gives you the best chance of paying off overheads and returning to the financial position you were in prior to the incident.

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