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Business Information by Gladys Edmunds

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds
At age 15 Gladys developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. Visit her at www.gladysedmunds.com

The Future is Now

The Future is Now

Dear Gladys,

I am a real estate developer at a family owned business started by my grandfather. And, the company is doing financially well. However, I often find myself saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I appreciate having a place in the family business but would prefer to start my own business. I want to be more like a business futurist. What guidelines can I follow to better foresee what the market will be like in the future?

Thank you - R.L.

If your father and grandfather are available to talk with you, that gives you two good business futurists to talk to. Any business that can live and live well, through three generations has a very proficient business futurist at the helm.

A successful business person is always predicting the future. The first rule of looking into the future is paying attention in the present. In other words, the future is happening right now. Most products and services that come into existence do so because someone had identified a better or more convenient way to use an existing product or service.

The big responsibility we have as entrepreneurs is not to worry about predicting the future but to make the present more livable. Doing anything to the contrary can rob us of valuable energy. The important thing is to try to develop support and offshoots for products and services already here.

Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean…

I can recall travelling with a load of stuff necessary to get my work done: a laptop, portable printer, and disks containing my work. Then the day came when I could lighten my load and store everything on a flash drive that was on my key ring and plug it into the computer at a hotel’s computer room for guests. Now I only travel with an iPhone and everything I need is on that device: files, programs, music, photos, recording app, and so much more. Recently while waiting in line at the grocery store I paid bills using my phone.

Someone saw how hectic life was for busy people and figured out how to make life easier. Of course, it didn’t happen all at once, things happen step by step. Perhaps you are too young to remember the 8-track tape, it was a large device that was inserted into a tape player installed in cars. Listen to your dad or grandfather tell you all of the steps that occurred from that time to how we listen to music today.

And of course, I once worried about what to do with all of the wonderful cassette tapes that came right after those 8-tracks and then someone developed a software package that allowed me to move the recordings from my cassette player into my computer. That invention gave me the option of leaving the recordings on my computer, or burning them onto a CD or downloading them into my iPod.

These examples show how things evolve over time and how they seem to evolve out of need. But what’s more important is that entrepreneurs have been at the root of most of these improvements.

Ask your father and grandfather how the real estate developers knew that two generations ago families living in overcrowded cities would make an exodus to the suburbs to raise their children. And today, condos and luxury apartments are being built in cities to accommodate the folks who now want to return.

Successful real estate developers had to know in advance that the market would be making these moves. How else would they continue to be successful?

Whatever you decide to do in business, whether you stay in the family business or move into something else, you will need to hone your skills as a business futurist if you want to stay in business. So, go for it. Be a business futurist. Keep your eyes and ears open and stay on top of what’s happening right now and you will become a darn good forecaster of what’s to come.