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Everybody thinks ahead. Thinking ahead is the stuff of dreams and hopes and planning and possibilities.
In business, you are continually sorting out the additional things you might do. You think through how to handle current problems. And you think through ways to grow and expand.
Example: Alicia is a veterinarian. She concentrates on dogs, cats and small "pocket" pets. Thinking about how to expand, she considered all sorts of possibilities. She made arrangements with a specialist in animal Reiki to offer these services on a regular day each week. It helped, but Alicia wanted to do more. She undertook training and got certified in animal acupuncture. Offering Reiki and acupuncture services has considerably expanded the market she serves--and is bringing more clients to her animal clinic.
Example: Josh has an extensive background in computers and all things electronic. He installs computer systems in small and medium size businesses. He networks the set-ups. And he trains employees of clients in the systems they use. Thinking ahead, he began offering new services and training in social media. Josh's clients were all over the map in understanding how to use social media and how it could help them in running their businesses. He began holding training sessions at client's offices. Then, looking ahead, he began setting up sessions that were open to the public. This attracted a great deal of attention, and Josh has added new clients of all his services.
Example: Judy is an artist who makes jewelry. She set up her original jewelry business to consign her creations to high end gift shops. She also set up her own website. Thinking ahead, she expanded by establishing a presence on Etsy. This had the advantage of reaching a much wider audience. Then she heard about 3D printing and wondered if this process might represent a future way to turn her designs into jewelry creations. Investigating, Judy discovered that an artist was already using 3D printing to create jewelry. She figured that there was room for some competition, and so she decided to take the first step. She is now researching several small 3D printing businesses that will take her designs and turn them into items that will sell in the jewelry market.
Thinking ahead is an important part of your job as a business owner. You are sailing your own ship, and you must be ready for an unexpected storm.
Storms can be physical--think fire, flood, electrical failure, employees quitting, suppliers disappearing. You must be ready in case one of these things happens.
Storms can also come at you from the marketplace. Thinking ahead can prepare you for economic downturns, fads and fashions going out of style, the possibilities of social media marketing, and the possibility that a premature expansion might bankrupt your business. Think ahead.
Thinking ahead means you are sorting out various plans, different ways to address the marketplace and succeed. Always, always reduce everything to actual and projected numbers in your business plan.