9 ways to future-proof your business in 2023


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“Expect the unexpected.” This a saying we’ve all probably heard at one time or another, especially business owners. While we’re taught to always prepare for the unexpected—in personal, professional, and financial situations—sometimes events are out of our control. 

Take the global pandemic for example. Given the unprecedented nature of this change in everything from economics to leadership, the act of future-proofing your business has become an absolute necessity for survival.

Future-proofing is strategically planning so your business will be able to remain successful despite any hardships or unexpected events that may occur. 

Below, we’ll dive into nine ways you can future-proof your business and stay prepared for uncertain times. 

1. Understand how the economy can affect your industry  

The first step in preparing your business for unforeseen circumstances is to better understand how your business is impacted by uncontrollable movements in the economy. This means understanding whether your business is in a cyclical or non-cyclical industry. 

  • Cyclical industries: Businesses that are affected by changes in the economy and whose profits rely heavily on the health of the economy, like the travel and leisure industry.
  • Non-cyclical industries: Businesses that are hardly affected by changes in the economy because they’re a basic need, like utilities, healthcare, and goods like groceries.

Tip: Identify how cyclical your business is given its performance post-pandemic, during the pandemic, and in more recent quarters. Or, if your business wasn’t around for previous recessions, look at the performance of businesses within your industry as a benchmark.

2. Analyze past performance 

Analyzing business decisions you made in the past is a great way to come up with a proper strategy for the future. What may have worked for you one year may not work for you another—that’s all a part of evolving as a business. 

When analyzing past business performance, look at things like: 

Financial statements to determine the financial health of your business. 

Customer satisfaction to determine how you’ve been able to retain customers. 

Competitor performance to determine any gaps in your strategy.

Employee job satisfaction and performance to determine any areas you need to improve on internally.  

Advertising and marketing performance to determine where you should be spending your efforts to attract new and existing customers. 

Once you take a good look at how your business has done in the past, it’ll make it easier to build a strategy for the future. 

Tip: Set quarterly and annual business goals and develop key performance indicators (KPIs) so you always have metrics to look back on to help inform future business decisions.  

3. Properly manage your finances for lean times  

There are many competencies within your business, but when it comes to future-proofing, proper management of your business’s financial statements is of the utmost importance. Financial statements give you an understanding of the financial health of your business over a period of time. This can help you make better (and smarter) business decisions to set you up for success in the future. 

The three types of financial statements include balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. 

Another part of managing your finances is ensuring that you have enough funds and resources on hand should any hardships or unexpected events occur. This is especially important while your business is in a healthy financial standing. Healthy financials in good times help reduce the impact of any bleeding in difficult times. 

One of the most obvious steps is thinking about where you can save on costs to maximize your budget and spending. For example:

  • Switching from traditional marketing spending, like direct mail, to more affordable marketing, like social media and SEO  
  • Offering electronic invoices to cut down on paper waste and postage costs 
  • Eliminating employee perks like free lunch or gym memberships and replacing those with valuable benefits  
  • Outsourcing tasks and hiring freelancers to save costs on hiring full-time employees 

Here are a few additional ways you can future-proof your business finances: 

Secure financing while your business is in a healthy standing to help build your business credit. 

Use your funds to invest in resources like talent, technology, or software systems that will improve your business. 

Manage your balance sheet to ensure you have enough short-term assets to cover your liabilities for a year.

Tip: Utilize online accounting software to help you organize your finances and keep your financial statements up to date so you can make better business decisions and future-proof your business. 

4. Listen to your customers

At the end of the day, your business can’t run without your customers. Part of providing great customer service—which 56% of small businesses say is one of the top secrets to success—is listening to your customers.

Listening to your customers helps improve customer retention, decrease customer churn, increase customer spending, and anticipate future wants and needs.   

Listening to your customers means connecting with them and being open to their feedback. There are many different ways you can do this, including: 

  • Running surveys to gather insight and feedback
  • Implementing a customer feedback feature on your website 
  • Running online focus groups 
  • Asking customers about their experience during the purchase phase 
  • Building relationships with customers through social media 
  • Staying up to date with mentions of your business online  

Your customers are a great resource for gathering insight on your pricing strategy, product features, and marketing tactics.  

For example, after customers buy something from your business, you can add a feature that can gather quick feedback from them at the time of purchase. 

You can ask them questions like “How likely are you to purchase this product again” or “How did you hear about us/this product?” These simple questions can give you insight into whether or not people will pay for your product based on its current price and what marketing tactics are working to attract customers to your business. 

Tip: Identify customer pain points and uncover their needs and wants by conducting surveys and doing research on consumer behavior to maintain a future-proof business. 

5. Focus on vendor management 

Vendor management is another focus that seems to fall to the back burner when times are good. Yet, if managed effectively during times of expansion, you’ll future-proof your business should a recession occurs. 

Vendor management is the process of managing your small business vendors by doing things like selecting vendors, negotiating contracts and payment terms, and controlling costs. Here are a couple of ways you can stay focused on vendor management: 

Always benchmark vendors against their competition. Doing this will lead to more advantageous pricing, which will reduce your overall expenses, increase your cash flow, and inevitably future-proof your business.

Negotiate payment terms. While out-of-pocket costs are important, so is negotiating for proper payment terms. Negotiate for everything possible and work diligently with your vendors to expand the number of days in which payment is due. 

Tip: Be sure to establish clear expectations related to decision-making, deadlines, quality of work, and communication from the start. This can help avoid confusion and make it easier to come up with solutions that can lead to a long-lasting and healthy partnership with your vendors.

The pandemic taught business owners many things, one of them being that many tasks and operations can be done online. This goes for business operations externally and internally. 

Our recent data found that half of small business owners say they are now doing business primarily online, so the digital experience should be a top priority for small business owners. 

For example, chefs, bartenders, and event planners who relied on people walking in the door transitioned to online consulting, classes, training, and events. In this way, they reduced their overhead costs and expanded their clientele. 

Internal technology is just as important to help your business become more efficient and make manual processes easier. Consider these digital tools to streamline your business operations: 

  • Project management tools 
  • Online accounting tools
  • Internet phone systems 
  • Collaboration tools 
  • Time tracking tools 
  • Scheduling tools 
  • Help desk tools 

Tip: Make sure you and your team are fully utilizing the online tools you invested in to make processes more efficient. If you aren’t using tools to their full potential, consider eliminating them and finding alternatives to save on costs.   

7. Practice sustainability

Sustainability is becoming more and more important to consumers, as they want to support businesses that care about the environment. Our recent Sustainability Insights Survey found that 72% of small business owners also find sustainability important, with three in five saying they’re already making changes to reduce their environmental impact.

Here are a few ways you can future-proof your business by practicing sustainability: 

  • Invest in eco-friendly shipping materials: Compostable mailers, biodegradable packing peanuts, recycled cardboard, and consolidating the number of shipping materials used can all help reduce waste.
  • Source sustainable products: Focus on looking for vendors and suppliers that are ethical and use materials that have minimum impact on the environment. 
  • Become paperless: Switch to online billing, digital documents, electronic receipts, and digital advertising to eliminate paper waste.   
  • Offer remote work: The need to have people in the office has decreased for many businesses and offering remote work (whether fully or in a hybrid model) can help reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating employees’ time spent commuting. 

Implementing sustainable business practices can help you stay competitive in your industry, satisfy customers, and—more importantly—reduce your carbon footprint. 

Tip: If you don’t know where to start, start with simple sustainable changes that still make a lasting impact, like switching to LED lightbulbs in your office to cut back on electricity or using sustainable alternatives when shipping products, like recyclable mailers.

8. Build a great team 

Employing the right people is key to long-term business success. And when the going gets tough, you want employees that will stick with you through the good times and bad. This is why building a great team and company culture is crucial. 

When hiring employees, make sure you’re finding the right candidates for the job. Look at your business needs and determine what skills candidates will need to thrive on your team. Hiring the wrong people can end up costing you later down the road. 

Aside from hiring, maintaining a collaborative company culture can help future-proof your business. Lean on your employees for valuable insight about future actions you can take that support the longevity of your business. To do this, make sure you’re:

  • Fostering team collaboration
  • Encouraging employee feedback
  • Embracing and implementing employee suggestions  
  • Promoting a culture built on trust and respect 

Tip: Invest in your employees by offering learning opportunities, competitive salaries, and flexible work options. This can help maintain a healthy and happy workforce today and in the future.

9. Embrace change and remain open to new solutions  

Change is inevitable no matter what industry you’re in. Every business makes mistakes and has failures—annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and even daily. The businesses that grow the fastest are those that actively identify their failures, are open to change, and implement immediate solutions to ensure a stronger foundation for future performance. 

This could mean trying new technology, implementing new strategies, or hiring new people. When unexpected events occur, being able to know how to pivot will keep your business future-proof. 

Tip: Revisit your business goals each quarter to ensure what you’re doing is still working. If something isn’t working, remain solutions-oriented to stay ahead of any future problems. From there, make any necessary updates and changes to your processes that will future-proof your plan. 

Start future-proofing now 

During unprecedented times over the last few years, we’ve seen innovation in its purest form. We’ve seen businesses built on retail brick-and-mortar leverage technology to reach their audience and the masses. We’ve witnessed businesses that depend on max capacity and high volume be creative, try new technology, and develop more effective operations management to stay future-proofed. And in many instances, we’ve seen effective cost-cutting measures where inefficiencies have been identified. 


This article originally appeared on the Quickbooks Resource Center and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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5 tips for organic business growth

5 tips for organic business growth

It’s no secret that startups have a prodigious failure rate. In fact, according to a recent Entrepreneur.com study, the four-year survival rate for a startup is just 49%.

With demoralizing stats like this in mind, entrepreneurs may be tempted to grow their profits through any means necessary, including inorganic strategies like acquisitions or mergers. However, the truth is that business owners can achieve impressive growth through organic strategies as well, allowing them to retain control of the companies they built from the ground up.


Also known as “true growth,” organic growth refers to the process of growing a business by reducing costs and increasing sales, either by finding more customers or enhancing output to current clients. On the other hand, inorganic growth occurs when a company merges with or is acquired by a second business. Entrepreneurs should take the time to familiarize themselves with the advantages of organic and inorganic growth, as well as some of the top strategies for execution, so they can decide which is the best choice for their business.

As a new business owner, you’ll likely want to increase profits as quickly as possible. By employing inorganic strategies like mergers and acquisitions, startups can grow their businesses more quickly while taking advantage of resources such as stronger credit lines and expanded market resources. Additionally, joining with another company lets you take advantage of its expertise and experience in the industry to develop your own brand.


By merging with another business, you agree to hand over some of your control and equity to another company. Not only can your initial vision become diluted, but you may also be forced to take on new business and managerial challenges before you’re truly ready. In some cases, you may have to rush to grow your staff and production capabilities to keep up with demand.

On the other hand, organic growth techniques allow you to grow your business on your own timeline. Because you aren’t sharing control with another company, you can hire employees and expand sales at your own pace. Additionally, entrepreneurs who maintain their autonomy now can sell for a larger profit later when the company is fully developed.

While retaining control of your company offers many advantages over the long haul, it can make business growth challenging in the short term. Some entrepreneurs struggle to grow beyond their current marketplace, while others find themselves cut down by the competition. Additionally, new businesses must often fight to make ends meet from month to month. Fortunately, strategies exist to help startups grow their profits without handing over control to partners or investors.

Here are just a few of those strategies to help you grow your business organically:


Want to grow a business that will feed your family and employees for years to come? The first step on the road to entrepreneurial success is starting the right kind of company.

With home-based and e-commerce businesses, you can avoid expenses like rent and commuting during the early, lean years of your company. As an added bonus, working out of the home lets you write off parts of your mortgage and electric bill. You can then invest these savings back into the business to help you grow in the long term.


A common conundrum for new business owners is whether to take your full cut of the profits or invest the money back into your company. While you may be tempted to keep some of those hard-earned dollars for yourself, you should aim to reinvest gross profits whenever possible to help your business grow. Investing your own money shows prospective clients and lenders that you are confident in your company’s long-term potential.

Not sure where to put profits? When in doubt, invest in marketing, SEO and other tactics likely to generate more business for your startup. If your income permits it, you may also want to invest in employee training and technological improvements, as these can yield large profits down the line for your company.


No matter how happy your current clients are with your offerings, you will have trouble growing your business organically if you don’t put effort into finding new sales channels. If you don’t currently sell your goods online, you should definitely consider starting a website to expand your reach to other regions. Additionally, you can introduce new products, cross-market services to your existing clients and expand to different markets. For example, a company that specializes in SEO may want to expand its services to include social media and search engine marketing.

Finally, business owners should employ market segmentation to customize their strategies according to the specific channels they are leveraging and the specific markets they are trying to reach. This way, you can create unique campaigns based on customer location and demographics and watch your sales rates skyrocket.


As a new business owner, you may feel the urge to micromanage everything that happens at your company. However, the truth is that macro-management is a far more effective way of enabling organic growth for your startup.

To keep your company moving forward, you should train top employees to take over some of your daily responsibilities. While you may be tempted to keep costs down by hiring employees who will work for less, in the long run these staff members could end up costing you more if their efforts aren’t up to par. Find people you can trust to get the job done—even when you’re not around—so you can focus on growing and developing your business in the years to come.


From minimizing spending, to reinvesting profits back into the business, organic growth strategies help ensure that you will retain control of the company you worked so hard to build. Do your research, and consider all the growth strategies available in order to give your business the best shot at success.

Do you know how sales taxes are impacting your bottom line? Check out our sales tax calculator.

This article originally appeared in the QuickBooks Resource Center and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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