Friday, December 26, 2014

Future uncertainties

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     Today's world is very different from that of yesterday. And tomorrow's world will be even more unrecognizable.

     A degree of certainty is required for business to survive, much less thrive. Right now, your small business is caught up in a juggernaut of change.

     Just consider energy. Who knows how the current debate will play out?

     One thing is certain. You and your business depend on electricity. Without electricity, your computer will go dark. Without electricity, banks and supermarkets will close. Gas stations will close, so you'll be reduced to using your bicycle. Appliances will become useless--how will you cook or wash clothes? 

     So where does electricity come from? Hydroelectric and nuclear plants are producing significant streams of electricity, but they cannot supply the full need. Solar and wind farms produce electricity in relatively small amounts. Oil and gas produce significant amounts of electricity. Coal, the biggest generation component, is being banned.

     Like it or not, we live in an age of oil and gas. This will continue for the foreseeable future. As coal is being phased out, oil and gas are filling some of the gap. Luckily, this country has more proven reserves of oil and gas than any other country. 

     People in small business need to be giving some thought to this problem. How will my business survive if the electric grid goes into frequent brownouts, or, worse, crashes for a month or two?

     Other uncertainties will also affect your business in the future. We are right now in a continuing debate on health care. Is the future in small, community-based, privately run health clinics? Or in big government bureaucracies? Is another system of health care on the horizon?

     Another uncertainty: Genetically modified foods now pervade the food chain in this country. A reaction to GMO foods is afoot--cities and some states are insisting that GMO foods be so labelled. Elsewhere in the world, there is an outright ban. 

     Still another: 3-D printing technology is already producing devices that will forever change manufacturing--both large and small. 3-D printing companies are already in the business of making parts for the automotive industry, aerospace, health care, home and personal products--including jewelry, lighting fixtures, shoe wear and more.

     And I haven't even mentioned the 800-lb gorilla in today's world. Computing technology, the Internet, and communications advances have revolutionized the world in just 30 years. And the revolution is only beginning. 

     As owners of small businesses, we tend to think about today's problems. But it's a good thing to consider where we're headed. The future is not knowable, but trends tend to continue. Thinking about these trends will help you structure your business to survive and prosper. Or, maybe, get into another line of business altogether.

     Uncertainties are everywhere in this world. In the past, we had time to absorb one uncertainty before the next one hit. No longer. Today, we must run twice as fast just to stay in the same place.  


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