The non-stop nature of business means we’re always learning new things. As we begin 2015, we pick out 5 business lessons from the past 12 months and look at what they could tell us about the year to come.
1. Scottish Referendum
The Scottish Referendum captured the imagination of Scotland. Voters decisively rejected independence from the UK as the ‘No’ side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for the ‘Yes’ campaign.
But what does this mean for business? An independent Scotland could have meant higher taxes on companies, not to mention a possible restriction on trade across the border between Scottish and English firms.
Nevertheless, the Scottish Referendum has taught us lessons on how the UK should conduct its next – and perhaps most important in terms of business – referendum on whether to remain part of the EU.
People need to be presented with a genuine, informed choice when they are finally given a chance to vote. A move away from Europe would have a dramatic impact on the ability to trade with our European neighbours.
2. Phones 4u administration
Retailer Phones 4u went into administration in September, when network operator EE decided not to renew its contract with the firm. It was forced to close all of its stores across the UK, leading to thousands of job losses.
Vodafone had also previously decided not to renew its contract. The lesson here is to always keep your business partners – mobile network operators, in this case – on side, otherwise the worst can happen.
3. The customer is still king
Businesses are nothing without customers. We all know that. But it appears customers are now demanding more communication channels for customer service. This includes self-service, chat and email.
A study by research firm Forrester found that customers want a breadth of communication channels for customer service. They demand consistent service experiences across these channels, plus the ability to start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another.
You will therefore need to expand your customer service in 2015, guiding customers to the right channel.
4. Social media is driving business
An increasing number of companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon to drive their business forward.
Some 92% of marketers claim a presence on social media is important for business, according to a report by Social Media Examiner, up from 86% in 2013, as the likes of Facebook and Twitter continue to reign supreme.
This suggests you need to make sure you have an active social media presence moving forward. If not, you could miss out on business opportunities.
5. Google named World’s Most Innovative Company in 2014
Even though it will soon turn 16, Google isn’t resting on its laurels. It’s constantly exploring new avenues and possibilities to expand its business, including an endless list of spin-off firms and projects.
That’s why it was named the World’s Most Innovative Company in 2014 by Fast Company. Google is determined to be more than just a search engine, dipping into arenas like wearable technology with Google Glass.
It teaches us that you should always look to better your business. Try new things to stay one step ahead of the game. If you stand still, time could eventually catch up with you and your service or product.