As a leader, you must continually understand that the world is getting smaller and global events and issues can now more easily impact your business no matter where you live.
No matter how stable a trend may seem, it’s inevitable that it will one day give way to new, emerging trends that can shake traditional or accepted paradigms to the core. Often, these trends arise due to a global reason, such as the development of a new technology or the onset of some form of mass social crisis.
For modern business leaders, success may depend entirely on their ability to seek out and foresee the effects of these events.
The New Wild West
For example, when the Internet was introduced to the marketplace, the way businesses interacted with customers changed dramatically. Suddenly, people began shopping on a global level without giving a second thought to ordering things from another country or even another continent.
New companies, such as Amazon and eBay, became the leaders while high-street favorites like Jessops or HMV rapidly closed branches in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy.
Many businesses were unable to adjust to the trend, and they faded out of existence as a result.
There are a number of ways you can start looking toward the future and searching for approaching trends.
- Get LinkedIn: This social media tool is extremely useful, offering news and information about new markets to business executives trying to look ahead. A well-developed LinkedIn profile provides you with the opportunity to follow influential business leaders and closely track tips and new directions.
- Get Skype: This invaluable tool free from Microsoft helps you connect with people across the globe via voice, video, and screen sharing.
- Follow news media business sections: Sources such as the BBC or CNN oftentimes highlight “new frontiers” in their business sections.
- Create a long-term plan: Developing a 5- or 10-year plan will provide you with a sense of where your business is moving, and it also allows you to form a fluid, flexible strategy that’s capable of adapting to new trends as they emerge.
- Encourage a culture of innovation: Bring the various segments of your business together to discuss where they see themselves, the company, and the industry several months or years down the road. Examine new ideas openly and develop those that may provide realistic benefits.
Global Events Making an Impact Now
In recent years, some important global events have affected businesses on a local level. The outcomes of these events are often yet to be seen — and that means that your organization still has a chance to expect new developments and incorporate company-specific solutions.
- The Euro Zone Crisis: Massive public cuts in Europe have forced many immigrant workers to go back to their countries of origin. Many countries with already-high levels of unemployment saw a mass of diaspora return, which created a substantial demand on local infrastructures and economies.
- The Recession: Due to infrastructure and spending limits, many countries have been forced to make draconian cuts to spending on both national and local levels. These cuts are becoming increasingly apparent to the public, which is experiencing high unemployment and has less cash to spend. High-end shops are closing at a dramatic rate, and those that survive are moving much of their business online to increase sales. Many shops, like Tesco, are now delivering items purchased online, and many offer a discount for purchasing over the Web.
- Unemployment: All across Europe, the unemployment rates for 18- to 25-year-olds have attained staggering height. For the entire EU, unemployment stood at just over 12 percent this spring, while in certain countries, that number has reached nearly 30 percent. In Greece, youth unemployment is expected to top 70 percent in 2014, with 30 percent of those youths holding college degrees. On a whole, this leads to less spending, an increase in antisocial behavior, and the potential for civil unrest.
- The Arab Spring: Over the course of the past few years, many countries in northern Africa have lost their tourist industries following popular uprisings in favor of the establishment of democracy. Media coverage has altered public perception to the detriment of many businesses, as remaining at home during vacation has taken on a new appeal. Local travel agents have had to develop new methods of attracting business, such as zero-percent money exchanges and guaranteed exchange rates.
Making Sense of It All
In the end, how an emerging trend will affect your business depends on your ability to foresee its arrival, and then adapt your business to the coming situation.
By looking far enough into the future, seeking out approaching trends, and developing a business plan flexible enough to accommodate whatever appears on the horizon, an executive can be better prepared to handle what may come.
This is what people mean when they say a leader possesses “vision” — it’s the vision to see what’s ahead.
So how aware are you of global issues in general? Do you take them seriously enough to gauge their impact on your local business? How good are you at predicting eventual outcomes that might impact your organization? i would love to hear your thoughts!
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