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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 January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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