The pandemic impacted humanity on a global scale, creating a prolonged and debilitating impact like never before. Few moments in history had imposed such global cessation and introspection.
The impact for some entrepreneurs and small businesses was catastrophic yet, at the same time, this pause preceded what may be one of the biggest peaks in entrepreneurship.
The pandemic tested humanity’s AQ – our adaptability quotient. As Darwin rightly declared, only those who are able to adapt survive. For entrepreneurs, the lessons of the pandemic have provided an opportunity to fully understand how fragile a business is (or can be) and just how agile it needs to be to survive in a changing world.
The lessons? Entrepreneurs need to continually develop their foresight to stay ahead of predictable change. Adapting when change is already underway, places your business into a fight or flight state. Your business is already forced to act. For entrepreneurs who invest time in staying attuned with changes in their environment, the impact and scope of change can be predicted to a degree.
If we take the example of the pandemic, its likelihood had been widely predicted for some time, what no one could pinpoint was when. Such early predictions can be acted upon or ignored. The former would enable you to consider the potential impacts for your business and to scenario plan accordingly. The latter places you in a position of fight or flight, where both you and your business are placed involuntarily under pressure to survive.
So how do you avoid this as a business owner or entrepreneur? Your natural tendency is likely to be action orientated and focused on the hustle and bustle of today, tomorrow or seasonal events in the year ahead. The biggest challenge for many entrepreneurs is to build in focus time. Time where you stop, look out, look ahead and gather data points to inform your foresight.
Building these habits into your routine as an entrepreneur are critical to developing your AQ. If this counters your natural style find others in your team who can perform this role for your business, if you are working alone find those in your network who can pose questions that will force you to stop and think about the environment. Through extrospection we can develop foresight and join the invisible dots of seemingly unconnected external events and trends into potential future changes.
So how can you ensure your business has developed its AQ in readiness for the next significant change? Every job, product, service and industry is going to be significantly impacted by AI and technology in the coming years. In fact, it’s already happening! The focus now should not be getting ‘back to normal’ in a post pandemic world, but on catching up with the future. Whether you run a small local business or a global venture, the disruption of AI is going to be significant.
The future exists beyond the 3 dimensional world as we know it. Your business and its consumers will soon be part of another world in which you need to operate – the metaverse. If we ignore it we will be forced into a fight or flight position and experience another pandemic type awakening. Now is the time to prepare for this change that is already gaining momentum.
Are you spending time understanding the potential impact of AI on your business? What is this metaverse? Are you taking time each day or week to research the metaverse and how your business may operate in this world? Are your competitors already in this space?
The pandemic has, for many people, sparked a desire to move towards a decentralised world. A world away from corporate structures, old systems and frameworks towards a new, devolved system of ownership. The future is one where the masses can create, build and own parts of the new online world. A world with its own currency, processes and protocols.
Whether it’s the metaverse or any other trend that is gaining momentum, be curious. Invest time in exploring the unknown. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable as you explore these trends, but don’t ignore them. Build in time to understand how the world is changing and slowly but surely you will build your AQ and be able to predict and prepare for the future.
Jo Richardson, author of “Ignite: Bring Your Business Idea To Life Without Burning Out” has over 20 years experience as an HR professional across multiple sectors including FMCG, Logistics, Manufacturing and Finance across EMEA. She has coached and mentored senior leaders in business; female entrepreneurs and small business owners to break through barriers and overcome personal and professional challenges.