Why you should keep an eye on your industry

Whenever someone starts a new business, they enter into a specific “industry” and are immediately affected by everything that happens within that industry. This is the case no matter what your business is; whether you’re a life coach, plumber, pest control expert, artist or provide financial services. If something happens that affects everyone in your chosen business sector, good or bad, chances are it will affect you too.

PEST Analysis

So what types of things could happen? One way of looking at this is to use a PEST analysis. By this, I don’t mean a rat infestation. What I mean is Political, Economic, Social and Technological issues that might have an influence on your business. Issues might be real ones, such as the introduction of the Euro, or things that haven’t happened yet, such as the impact of a massive power cut on your business.

The most obvious question that springs to mind is why? What is the point of looking at these issues? Even if they happen, they might not affect your business. Well, there are two main reasons that it’s important to consider these issues. The first is opportunities; that is, what opportunities might exist for your business if things happened? The second is threats; that is, what threats exist for your business if these things happen and how can you minimise the impact of these?

Opportunities

By looking at your business from this angle, there might be several opportunities that you can use to enhance your business. An estate agent in Hertfordshire has used technological issues to improve the way they communicate with customers. They now text customers as soon any new houses meeting their criteria come onto the market.

New opportunities have also been realised by companies such as Easyjet who saw from social trends that people did not want to pay a lot of money for short haul flights.

Threats

But threats can also be created by PEST issues. An example of this is the impact of computer viruses on businesses. There are several companies out there who still do not have adequate protection from these threats, with the result that getting a virus could have a drastic effect on their business.

Other threats could be the introduction of new regulations and legislation that could have a huge impact on your business, particularly if you employ staff or work in a high risk industry which typically has a lot of health and safety regulations.

But perhaps the greatest threat at present is the global impact of terrorism, which could potentially impact every business in the UK.

Taking advantage and minimising risks

So how do you make sure that you take advantage of any opportunities that are available and minimise the risk of any threats? The first step in doing this is to identify the issues that would be likely to affect your business. And for this a bit of creativity is needed.

Take a large sheet of paper and work with a friend or colleague to come up with as many ideas as you can, of things that are happening in the outside world which may have an impact on your business. You might also want to look on the news websites to see if there is anything you haven’t already thought about. Feel free to be as creative as you like and think of factors that may not necessarily have happened yet, but could happen or that you would like to happen in the future.

Once you have done this exercise, look at each issue to see whether you can use it to your advantage or whether it is a threat. How could you take advantage of the opportunity or minimise the risk?

An example of this might be an issue faced by a cleaning company who read a news article showing that domestic cleaners were often getting asthma as a result of their job. The company recognised that they could eventually be held liable for this and put in place policies to minimise the risk to cleaners. By doing this, and letting potential employees know about this action has resulted in many new employees and new clients who have acknowledged this unique viewpoint.

Your industry as a whole

While looking at PEST issues is valuable to your business, it’s not the only issue you should be concerned about. You also need to look at what is happening in your specific industry as a whole. If you identify now for instance, that the number of customers buying your type of service are declining, then you could do something about it.

Consider for example, traditional butchers and bakers shops. While some are still in existence, many have been overtaken by large supermarket chains and have seen their business severely affected as a result. Perhaps the ones who have survived are the ones that saw the change coming and put in place measures to prevent it.

Continual Change

As your industry and things external to your business will be changing constantly, it is vital to make sure you keep an eye on what’s going on with your industry. Doing so, could mean the difference between life or death for your business.

Exceptional Thinking can look at your industry trends as well as provide comprehensive customer and competitor analysis. For further details, contact 0845 644 9371 or email on info@exceptionalthinking.co.uk

Author:.

Exceptional Thinking (http://www.exceptionalthinking.co.uk) provides help and advice for small business owners on their marketing and to people starting up in business. To get your free audio on "Should you use email marketing in your business?" visit http://www.exceptionalthinking.co.uk/emailmarketinginfo.htm

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