New Year's is the traditional time to look ahead and, naturally, look back. Not just personally, but it's a great time to look at your business too. And I don't know anyone who runs or leads a business who, when they look ahead, isn't worried about two hundred different things. Or more.
Because I not only run my own business but help hundreds more find success, here are four things I know entrepreneurs are worrying about in 2015.
Mobile--It's not enough to be digital anymore. Or even responsive (formatting your digital content to work on mobile devices as well as table-top ones). The share of content being consumed on mobile devices is eating traditional digital alive.
"The one thing everyone agrees on is that business dynamics will change in 2015, and change quickly." says 2Checkout CEO, Shawn Budde. "Over the past few years, online and mobile payments have been rapidly changing--benefiting businesses; many new competitors have changed the game, launching innovations such as mobile payments, Bitcoin acceptance, and easy to implement technology."
Is your business ready or doing enough to be the first in line on mobile platforms? Is your content right in format and design? Take it from Sarah Ansari, CEO of Artizara, an Islamic clothing company, who experienced the importance of these elements first hand this month. "I noticed that after improving our responsive design, our pages per session increased by 40 percent, and average session duration improved 42 percent. In just one month, this is a very drastic leap."
Many, many business leaders will be on the phones with their content and digital marketing people often in 2015 to make sure they are.
Scaling--It's taken a long time but the economy is improved and growing. For many new and young business owners, 2015 may be their first boom economy. More customers, more spending and more access to capital has entrepreneurs worried about growing their business smartly.
Can you meet exponential customer growth? Is your distribution set? Production? Can you access expansion loans quickly?
"It can be easy (even desirable) to forget the pain it took to get a company from inception to the point where you have earned the ability to focus on scaling," says David Leeds, CEO and Founder of Tango Card, the go-to partner for digital reward solutions to enterprise customers. "But this journey highlights the importance of actually getting scaling right. Ultimately, customized solutions, one offs, and bolt-ons benefit no one. Creating standard, configurable products is how we think about scaling," says Leeds.
If the consumer spending really blossoms in 2015, the companies that are best prepared to expand efficiently and quickly will be winners.
Labor--While higher employment rates are good for the economy overall, it can put upward pressure on employee and benefit costs. It may cost more to hire and keep good talent in 2015 than it did in 2013. It could also be more difficult to find good talent--at any price.
Does your business have the cash or margin to compete when your talent is lured away? Can you afford to be pre-emptive to retain your people? Have you built enough into your plans when you need to hire new talent for expansion?
Labor pressure may not be a key driver in 2015. But it's possible. And if it is, and because labor is often a major business expense, it could have the biggest impact on your business.
Keeping nimble--The one thing everyone agrees on is that business dynamics will change and change quickly--sometimes literally overnight. The calling card of the new businesses based in the technology and digital economy has been flexibility.
Is your business adaptive enough to survive the unexpected? Can you meet a new market? Or deal with a new competitor?
"Being nimble isn't an add on, it's a fundamental feature of your business from day one," says Anthony Vinci, Founder and CEO of Findyr, the global marketplace for information.
"From the people you hire to the code you write being able to adapt to customers, competitors, and technologies is critical. If you asked me who our biggest clients would be a week before launch, I'd have told you they're market researchers buying pricing data. A week after, it turned out to be media companies buying videos. You've got to go with the flow but keep the vision intact."
Those who aren't thinking about expanding their business adaption skills, more than likely, won't be ready when things change. Keeping the right mix of experienced leaders and mentors and a diverse, eager workforce will be key. So will knowing your customers better than anyone else.
Granted, that's just four things. But those things are on the minds of lots of entrepreneurs--and with great reason. No one knows for sure what trends or developments will sculpt the business environment in 2015. But that won't stop us all from worrying about them.