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Future-proofing your business

Forecasting the future of your company isn’t an exact science. It’s impossible to predict every economic swing, technological advancement or political shift. And the ripple effects of each of these potential changes are equally capricious.

How, then, do you future-proof your business? Rehmann’s experienced professionals offer key strategies — in the areas of cybersecurity, business operations and scalability — to help you begin looking ahead.

Jessica Dore: From a cybersecurity perspective, it is paramount that a strong network infrastructure is in place, along with governing policies and procedures. First, ensure that you’re familiar with the different types of security attacks, so you can best equip yourself to fight them. Next, ensure that all devices your employees use are protected by the proper security controls such as a firewall, intrusion detection and prevention systems, antispyware and antivirus programs. The security solutions will fail to be effective if they are not updated.

Strong passwords are your first line of defense and must be made by combining letters, numbers, uppercase, lowercase and special characters. The passwords should not be shared or displayed. A significant percentage of security breaches do not take place due to technical vulnerabilities, but instead rely on social engineering and the willingness of people to trust others. Make sure that employees can access only the data needed for their job function.

A secure network is a robust network. Attacks can happen in minutes and are often hard to detect. Make sure you take all the essential steps to protect yourself and your company.

Mary Van Skiver: Consider the following quote from Oprah: “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.”

The same way of thinking applies to crafting a strategy for the transition of your business. You certainly don’t want to rely on luck: 50 percent of business transitions occur due to unfortunate events like death, disability, divorce, disagreement or distress. Yet these unfortunate events are covered by contingency plans only 67 percent of the time. A recent survey by the Exit Planning Institute reveals that 88 percent of business owners are not prepared to address transition planning. In addition, 76 percent of business owners are not aware of either of their options, or what is involved in the transition planning process.

With only 13 percent of organizations having a written and communicated plan, a priority should be to record and communicate your thoughts and intentions. Document the parameters, along with a review of your buy-sell agreement, operating agreements, resources to fund transition, an employee/ leadership pipeline and retention policies, assignable contracts, customer commitments and the like.

It is never too early to strategically position your business, employees and even family for future changes. Be sure preparation meets opportunity when you need it most.

Jim Carpp: To future-proof your business, you should focus on the what, how and why of scalability. Scalability, in this scenario, means you can change the size of your operations to meet your clients’ needs.

The world is becoming more niche-focused and complex, so it’s more difficult for one company to perform every task for their clients. How do you ensure you are meeting all of your clients’ needs? Hiring outside vendors can help. Vendors can spread a skill across many customers and come to a full-time equivalent. Instead of having an employee at your company do it once in a great while, you’ll enjoy the efficiency and proficiency of someone who does it repetitively.

Why is this necessary? As we talk with clients, we realize they are, often unknowingly, noncompliant with the law as a result of tasks they assumed they could not afford.

Gone are the days of the jack-of-all-trades. To future-proof your business, scale your workforce as needed, and let your experts focus on their expertise.

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