Future-Proofing Your Engineering Firm
Staying competitive in a tough market can be challenging, but things will get tougher in the future if you are not already looking at future-proofing. Preparing and planning for the future can help to make things that little bit easier. When you take positive steps to future-proof your engineering firm, you actually regain control. Planning and preparation can allow you to diversify, and most importantly – stay ahead of the competition. Getting your fir ready for the future will provide job security for your employees, and it will provide stability for you and for your customers too. If you do not start planning and preparing for the future, then it will creep up on you, and you will not be ready. However, this does not mean that your competitors won’t be ready. Being organized and being prepared will ensure that you remain competitive at all times. So, now you are aware of just how important future-proofing is – what action do you need to start taking?
Table of Contents
Evaluating Your Current Situation
Before you even look at pushing forwards, you need to take stock of where you are currently at. You need to evaluate what position your business is in, and you need to see what course it is following. When you get caught up in the daily running of your business, it can be very hard to look forwards and to focus on the future. Removing yourself from the daily operations can be challenging, but it is something that you need to do. You need to step back from the running of your engineering firm to really see what is happening. Often you will struggle to see what is happening, especially when you are too close to daily operations. So, now that you are stepping back from your business – can you see what is happening? Are you doing as well as you thought? Are you making a profit, and are you meeting the needs of your customers and clients? The evaluation period can open up a lot of questions, but it is important to start this process as soon as possible.
Creating and Implementing a Plan of Action
After undertaking a process of evaluation, you then have to start formulating a plan of action. Without a plan of action, you will struggle to push your business forwards in the right direction. Evaluation will have allowed you to see where room for change and development lies, and now a plan of action will help you to positively implement these changes. When putting together a plan of action, it is important to plan for the next few years. Planning for the next 12 months is crucial but planning even further ahead (say for 3-5 years) is advantageous, and it is going to allow you to see where your business needs to be (and where it can be). Your plan of action should include realistic and achievable short-term goals, as well as long-term goals. Setting business goals will help you to keep your plans firmly on track. A plan of action will look and act similar to a business plan, and it will be something that you refer to over the next few years.
Look at Your Competitors
Whether your firm is operating in the field of electrical engineering or in the field of biomedical engineering, it is always worth remembering that you will always have competition. The competitors that you have are crucial to your business because they can help you see where you can change and, crucially, where you can improve. Keeping a close watch on what your competitors are doing and what they are planning on doing will help you to cultivate plans for your future. To ensure that you keep up with your competitors, it is important to look at what they are regularly doing. You can get more out of regular competitor analysis instead of one that is perhaps conducted on an ad-hoc basis. Aim to conduct a competitor analysis for direct and indirect competitors at least once every quarter. When you conduct regular checks, you can then ensure that you are taking the right course of action.
Securing New Opportunities
To protect the future of your firm, you have to focus on securing new opportunities. New opportunities will bring much-needed revenue into your firm, and it will provide that extra security blanket too. When you are looking at securing new opportunities, you have to ensure that you have the right team in place. You are overseeing your firm, but can you successfully bid for new work (and seal the deal). Quite often, to win new work and contracts, you will need closers in place, and you will need those with a strong sales track record. New opportunities in engineering are always there, and competition is tough, so you have to ensure that when you bid for work, you do so in a competitive and strong manner. Getting the right team around you will help you secure new opportunities. To ensure that you have a strong team to work with, you need to look at where strengths and weaknesses currently lie. For example, if you have a fantastic team that can bid for work but not closes a deal, then you need to focus on hiring sales specialists. When new opportunities present themselves, your firm has to be in the best place possible to ensure that you can close and win them.
Diversifying and Developing
To ensure that your engineering firm has a strong position in the future, you need to focus your efforts on diversification and development. Looking at what you can do, and offer is essential, and it is something that you should certainly start working on right now. So, what can you improve on, what else can you give and offer? The key to diversification and development is to create a plan. Within your plan, you can utilize all of your current research and customer data and see where you can push forwards and offer more. Without a plan, you will not have a basis to work from, and you will certainly not be able to identify where new opportunities exist. Your firm has a chance to put in plans for the future to help it stand out and win new business – so what will these plans cover? Looking at what your competitors are planning on doing will certainly help. It will also be beneficial to establish what your customers and clients want from your firm in the future. Identifying gaps and opportunities will ensure that development and diversification are successful.
Increasing Your Awareness and Developing Your Skillset
To ensure that your firm retains its strength and position in the current market (as well as future markets), you have to invest in yourself just as much as you do in your business. Your awareness of markets, and of customers, together with your skillset, will ensure that you can push forwards in a positive way. So, what does your current skillset offer, and where is there room for improvement and development? For instance, are you an effective communicator? Do you need to brush up on your communication skills? Without effective communication, you will not be able to successfully convey your message, and you will not be able to reach customers and new markets. No business owner is perfect and establishing where your flaws and faults lie will help you in the future. When you strengthen your own flaws and areas of weakness, you can then strengthen your overall offering. As well as working on improving your skillset, you also need to increase your awareness. Your awareness of client/customer needs, as well as your awareness of market conditions, will help to put your business in a strong position.
Advancing Your Knowledge
Committing to constant learning and training is valuable and key to your business and its future. The more knowledge that you have, then the more value you can add to your firm. When you focus on constant learning, training, and knowledge, you can be sure that you are aware of market needs, as well as customer/client needs. If you do not focus on knowledge, then you will slip behind your competitors. You cannot keep doing the same thing (without change) as this will not work, and your results will never be different. When you increase your knowledge alongside your skillset and awareness, you ensure that you stay focused (and targeted) on what customers and clients truly need and expect from your firm.
Studying For a Masters
Standing out from the competition, improving what you offer, and improving what your business does, can be easily achieved when you know what to do and what to look for. As your education is so important in future-proofing your firm, it is essential that you study a masters engineering management program because a masters program will give you all information and insight you need. This insight and information can then be utilized and directly applied to your firm and to its future growth and development. Being aware of what is going on in your firm is much easier when you know what to look out for. A comprehensive masters program will help you identify and understand what you should be aware of and why.
Keeping Up With Industry Rules, Regulations, and Standards
As times change, so do industry rules, regulations, and standards. To future-proof your firm, you have to keep up to date with changes and advances in rules and regulations that directly affect your business and the industry within which you operate. When you stay up to date, you show customers and clients that you are dedicated to your trade and that you are fully legal. Industry rules and standards protect customers and clients just as much as they protect your firm, and clients often look for this assurance and certainty. If you cannot keep up with legislation, then what will a client or customer see? Will they want to put their trust and business in your firm? Ensuring that you are fully compliant at all times is valuable to the future of your firm.
Making Valuable Connections
You are not alone when you are running your firm, and you should never be isolated. Good and strong connections will help your business secure new opportunities in the future and will ensure that you hear of new opportunities before others. When it comes to making valuable connections, you need to focus on quality over quantity. Ensure that you are networking and connecting with industry professionals and those that make a difference. Simply having lots of contact details is not going to be sufficient. You need to start focusing on building a bond and relationship with people – you need a connection that is strong, and that will last. Connections can help you secure funding, new opportunities, and new clients. Focusing on networking should be one of your top priorities moving forwards. Networking online and offline at least once a month will help you to build up a database of valuable and worthwhile connections.
Taking time to improve and grow with regard to what you offer and what you provide is crucial to your future. You need to be aware that engineering is a competitive field and will continue to be competitive as demand increases over time. To ensure that you stay in demand, you always have to be exploring new opportunities and avenues. Do not settle, or get comfortable, because this is when you will find competition will be hot on your heels. Always strive to give your customers and client as much as you can and ensure that you are valuable to them. When you are valued, and when you give your clients/customers value for money, you tend to have more security and safety, and this is what you need moving forwards. To truly future-proof your firm, you need to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible – you must not be chasing it!