2018: Time to be bold or go home

Do you believe that “slow and steady wins the race” or that you need to “throw caution to the wind” in order to be successful?

I ask the question because it seems to me that today’s cultural and business climate is one that leans heavily toward bold innovation and social change.

Mark Cuban recently commented that the ventures of some innovative tech companies impact our lives far more than any measures coming out of Washington D.C. – and that is probably true in other developed nations as well.

Everyday, the top news stories are filled with items about driverless cars, virtual reality, augmented reality, new rockets, private space travel, space colonies, hypersonic underground transit loops, and more – you get the idea.

The mega-capitalized companies at the forefront of these developments can launch bold projects (or float the ideas in the media) because of the positions they hold in the public eye and because they can risk the money to get them going without endangering other elements of their businesses.

Smaller businesses generally don’t have access to such deep pockets, yet it is often smaller startups that are the initial movers on some of these concepts. Recently, I heard that Apple purchased a small virtual reality development company.

The leadership dilemma for small businesses is finding the right balance between caution and boldly pursuing new ideas and projects. But as we go into 2018, I encourage you to lean more to the “throwing caution to the wind” side of this scale. I say that because I think our cultural and commercial “winds” are blowing in that direction, creating perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many businesses.

We have come off many years when economic expectations and sentiments were low. That creates all kinds of pent-up demand. Recent economic data tell us that this demand is being released and that should carry over into 2018 making it the ideal time for new ventures:

  • Pursue physical expansion. Open a location in a nearby town or establish a sales territory in a neighboring state.
  • Introduce new products or services. Experiment with products and services a bit further away from your core. Perhaps you do this by spinning off a startup.
  • Innovate your processes. If you limped through the slower times by stretching the life cycles of equipment or you avoided updating your digital technology, take advantage of these rosier days to jump ahead.
  • Rethink your online presence. Can you sell online? Implement online scheduling? Dramatically improve the customer experience – with Millennials and mobile in mind – by revamping your use of the Internet.
  • Is there a merger or acquisition that might allow you to take your business to an entirely new level?

Optimism is high among consumers and business leaders. Don’t fail to take advantage of this.

Take some risks in 2018.