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Successful Businesses Use This Tool to Predict the Future and Get Ahead of Their Competitors

Successful Businesses Use This Tool to Predict the Future and Get Ahead of Their Competitors

There are many factors that can affect the success of your business and determine which direction you will have to take next. According to research conducted by the Small Business Administration (SBA), one of the reasons 22% of start-ups fail within the first five years of launching is due to poor management.[1]

While there are many management skills for us to acquire, the ability to foresee the future is unquestionably the number one ability everyone longs to possess. Fortunately, it’s not some inherent talent only available to an elite few. With the right tools and resources, you too can make accurate business projections.

What Is PEST Analysis and How It Can Help You Predict the Future

One of the best tools to use is the PEST analysis. A PEST analysis is centered around the political, economic, social and technological factors of a business. These are part of the macro environment. The macro environment is about external influences and factors that can heavily influence a business whether they choose it or not. We will break down the PEST analysis into 4 major factors so you have a better understanding before applying it to your business:

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Political Factor

What it means: This is about regulations and laws that are put in place in your place of residence/ town/ country that have a significant on your business. The issues around politics are, tax, political stability, trade regulations, affirmative actions and so forth.

Why it is important: This is important when planning your finances, hiring policies and training of staff. Some companies have quotas around hiring minorities and previously disadvantaged groups. Some industries require you to train staff on first aid and healthy safety.

How to use it: When you are planning the overall growth it’s important to keep in mind what these requirements are when you reach a certain turnover or head count of staff. This puts you ahead of the curve and you have no surprises when you do reach a certain threshold as implementation and planning can be very costly.

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Economic Factor

What it means: This include factors such as inflation, currency strength, interest rates, trading power and foreign investments to name a few.

Why it is important: This helps if you want to get funding for your business, financing, loans from the banks. The economic environment also gives you insight regarding un-employment rates, pay rates and other financial aspect re your business.

How to use it: This is great for when you’re making financial projections. For example, if you have a long term loan out against your company, factoring in interest rates of the bank ensures that you do not come short on your budgeting. If you wish to hire someone with certain experience and expertise, knowing what the market rate is for such professional can help you in terms of your hiring plan and how to factor in that salary when you’re budgeting

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Social Factor

What it means: The social environment deals with demographics, location, culture, lifestyle and the likes. Having a know how about your environment is paramount to how you establish your business. For example, there is not use going to sell feminine products in an industrial area dominated by men. Or selling fur coats in a place where animal rights are of high importance to the culture. Different cultures like different things so you need to know how to accommodate them.

Why it is important: When the community feel that the business caters to their needs and understands them, you gain more loyal customers and that gives you competitive advantage.

How to use it: It is also very important for organizations to be involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – most people think CSR is expensive and is only applicable to big corporations but it’s a social responsibility every company has. You can choose to devote your time to helping repair roofs in a school. You can get employees involved in helping at charities or you can give contribution to a cause. It doesn’t have to be millions but the little can go a long way.

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Technological Factor

What it means: The technological aspect of the PEST is something that is new to this analysis. But in today’s world, it is almost detrimental to your business to ignore technology.

Why it is important: How does technology affect the business you do? The world of retail was transformed significantly when e-commerce was introduced. If your organization deals with everyday mundane and monotonous tasks, how does technology affect your growth. There are some systems that are automated to help eradicate the human error. There are computers that can do a job that easily required 4 people.

How to use it: Knowing what kind of technology is out there and how it either threatens/assists your business, will help you derive a better vision and makes your more flexible and you won’t be so susceptible to change.

The PEST analysis can also be extended to a PESTEL Analysis, which deals with the environment issues like animal rights, carbon footprints, pollution and the likes as well as legal matters such as discriminations laws, harassment, minimum wages and other compliance issues.

If you have the desire to grow and expand your business to be sustainable, the PEST analysis is a tool that can best give you a guideline to take the necessary steps.

Reference

[1] Office of Advocacy: Frequently Asked Questions

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Kayiba Mpoyi

Writer by birth

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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