Setting the tone for a positive year, business and consumers alike are reporting higher levels of confidence in the economy. With an economic environment conducive to growth and profitability, businesses have reason to be optimistic about achieving their goals, however, there are some common challenges that need to be addressed to ensure success in the upcoming year.
If there one thing that the recent economic downturn has tought us, is that keeping market share is no longer enough. If businesses want to survive and thrive, they need to grow. Constant innovation and brand differentiation will become paramount in 2015 if a business wants to stay ahead of its competition. It is no longer enough to have an “innovation or R&D team” in place, innovation must become part of the company’s culture, of their DNA. Having innovation as part of the company’s values can help keep it top of mind in employee’s everyday activities. Other strategy experts suggest include encouraging new ideas through contests as well as rewarding employees with bonuses and other incentives for performing well in the innovation area.
In 2015, brand differentiation will also play a large role in success. Both business clients and consumers have started to build emotional bonds with their favorite brands, showing that it is no longer enough to have a great product, but also to have a clear brand image in the market place. In this sense, branding is no longer just under the prevue of the Marketing team, it needs to be a company-wide effort. Making sure employees understand the importance of the brand and follow branding guidelines will help companies ensure a consistent experience with every client interaction.
Cyber-attacks used to concern mostly individuals who fell victim to phishing scams, viruses and other malware that they inadvertently installed in their computers. With a raise in cyber-crime, businesses and governments are increasingly more targeted. Viruses and ransomeware are some of the raising threats to company data and systems. Fortunately, small and large businesses alike can implement security measures to avoid a major catastrophe. Installing antivirus software and firewalls, backing up mission-critical data in remote servers, and educating employees can help business protect themselves.
In 2015, controlling costs will play a major role in business success. For a lot of business that depend on transportation, rising fuel costs will be a concern. Keeping a closed eye on fuel costs as well as implementing innovative software to prevent fuel waste will help these companies keep costs down.
Both the US Federal Reserve and the Central Bank of Canada are expected to raise interest rates for the first time in five years, making it more expensive for companies to borrow capital. Effective strategic planning will help businesses avoid unexpected cash shortages.
Other costs that are expected to increase in 2015 are labor and raw materials. With careful planning, a sound financial strategy and cost-benefit analysis for every project, business can make sure they thrive and stay profitable.
2015 promises to be an interesting and positive year, being aware of the major challenges and preparing for them in advance will ensure that your company grows and thrives in the upcoming months.