CHANGE - there is a lot of it about at the moment. For example: we have a new Government, the weather seems to be altering its state from what we have been used to and an orange-haired politician is currently touring Asia and who knows what will come of that.

In business the environment is also ever-changing, and we are all aware of this. From customer preferences and expectations through to the march of technology changing how work is done - nothing is guaranteed to be the same, even in the short term.

Future-proofing your business is, therefore, incredibly important and much more than just about information technology and having the latest gadgets. It is strategic at its core and must be undertaken with a clear view of where you and your business are headed in the future.

I remember a while ago that I asked a group (one of which thought of itself as a "modern and vital") this question: "How can you possibly consider yourself future-proofed if for haven't considered the future?" Deer in the headlights would be a good way to describe their reaction.

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In our own business environment things move at a pace and we are constantly faced with change and decisions requiring our attention that are new. If we haven't, even in a small way, prepared ourselves for what the environment might throw at us we are setting ourselves up for a difficult time.

Of course, what customers and clients want and need are key components of future-proofing and, in my view, it is a critical aspect of business that is often overlooked - or reliance is placed that current conditions will "be around" for the business as time goes by.

I help clients around the country answer the simple question about "are we in the best position to be successful?" The answer to this question starts with strategic planning but flows through all aspects of a business. My advice is that you get a professional who is experienced in strategic planning to assist.

At Balance, we have our eyes firmly fixed on the future and aim to be at the "cutting edge", rather than being "cut" by it. In this way we will better serve our clients by meeting and proactively managing what changes may come. This includes putting our people in the best position to deliver develop their own skills and experience. This is how all businesses should be thinking.

Things which we may today view as costs should really be considered investments - particularly those that increase customer satisfaction and/or our own effectiveness - so we need to think and "be" strategic about them. Marketing and any costs associated with enhancing the customer experience also come to mind here. The advent of technological change and leveraging it is a good example of "change presenting an opportunity".

You approach all of this by developing your long-term strategic plan first and then work proactively on ensuring that your business is geared towards managing change and is robust in critical areas. These can include also risk management, business continuity and change management. It is important to think ahead and design your business to cope with the current environment and what is about to come - investment here can not only make longevity likely, but success too.

Balance Consulting is a Whanganui consultancy specialising in business strategy, process excellence and leadership mentoring - contact Russell Bell on 021 2442421 or John Taylor on 027 4995872.