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Can you future-proof your business?

Like most business partners, they were friends sharing a common interest. In the beginning, they made spice blends and gave them as homemade gifts to friends. After wondering if there may be a larger opportunity to sell into the retail market, they created a business plan and unique packaging. The first retail chain buyer liked the samples and placed a $10,000 order. Continuing to grow, they got past the inevitable downs that come with the ups, and 20 years later are doing well.

Small businesses are the life bread of America, but no one ever claimed that running one would be easy. Companies come and go with great frequency. For instance, in the second quarter of 2016, 8,399 establishments started up, generating 29,697 new jobs in Illinois. In the same period, 7,534 businesses exited, resulting in 25,871 jobs lost.

When it comes to the challenges small businesses face, it critical to know what you're up against. You want your business to not only survive, but grow and thrive. And ideally, you'd like it to continue after you're gone. You want to future-proof your business.

Steps to future-proof your small business

To future-proof your business, you'll need to look ahead to anticipate and minimize the threats that could harm your business. You'll want to:

  • Create the right entity. Maybe it's an S-corporation or an LLC, but establishing the right entity for your business is crucial.
  • Create a solid business plan. Planning for the future of your business is essential. You'll need to understand the market you are targeting; the goals you have for your business; and how you will achieve those goals.
  • Diversify. Don't rely on just one product, diversify your product portfolio to mitigate risk.
  • Adapt your customer acquisition strategies. As technologies change, you'll want to change as well, or risk missing out on opportunities.
  • Predict the future. Okay, easier said than done, but keeping up with industry trends will allow you to see potential opportunities and recognize upcoming pitfalls.
  • Innovate. Be open to new ideas, and actively promote having a culture of innovation. Having the mindset of that's how we always do things, can impede your forward progress.
  • Plan for your demise. We all have to go sometime, and you'll want to create a plan to pass on your family business when that happens.

Future-proofing your business is a process. Consult with an attorney familiar with the needs of small business to get started. When you get 20 years down the road, you and your business will be glad you did.

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