Small Business Foresight
Small Business Foresight in hard-cover is now on Amazon and available for order at bookstores worldwide. The eBook version is now available at KDP (Kindle) and at Amazon.com.
Small Business Foresight is about how to think about and plan for the future of your business using the same tools that futurists and highly successful organizations have used for decades to cope with and adapt to the ever changing world.
Now, these tools and methods are scaled down to fit the needs of small businesses.
More than sixty illustrations and tables to illustrate how the methods of foresight and futures studies can be effectively applied to small business.
NOTE: The "Small Business Foresight Workbook" is available as a FREE download on the "Free Downloads" page.
Look at the Amazon link below---it shows the current price for Small Business Foresight on Amazon. The list price is $29.95, but there appears to be some competition. If you click on the link, your book will be at the price showing. Apparently, Amazon's computers scour the web to keep their prices competitive.
Small business is different from big business!
Of course it's different--- but when it comes to planning and preparing for the future, the differences are really important. The methods for exploring and planning for the future are the same as for big international organizations, but the application of those methods is very different for small businesses.
Following is a draft of the introduction to Small Business Foresight. I'll share sections with you on this web site in the coming weeks.
Small Business is different.
Because small business is different, from big business, some methods and tools used by large organizations work well for small business, but some don’t.
The methods that professional futurists use to anticipate and plan for the future have been used very effectively by big business for decades, but it is necessary to apply those methods differently in small business, and that’s what this book is about. This book will show you how to recognize the forces of change in your business---even if your business is just you (as my business is, and has been for years---just me!)
What qualifies me to tell you how to develop and apply foresight in your business? ? I have worked in and owned small businesses for over 50 years. My export business grew to exceed $5 million in annual sales before I started reducing the business in order to go back to school to study Foresight and Futures Studies. I received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon College of Business Administration, a Master’s degree from the University of Houston in Studies of the Future, and a Ph.D. from Leeds Metropolitan University for my research and dissertation, Personal Futures: Foresight and Futures Studies for Individuals.
I am a professional futurist. I have spoken to large and small groups, led workshops, and taught university classes in many different parts of the world. My books and workbooks have been published, translated, sold, and downloaded around the world. It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One! was awarded the “Most Important Futures Work” first place award by the Association of Professional Futurists.
I wish this book had been available fifty years ago when I was building a business! The tools and methods of foresight— scenarios, visioning and strategic planning would have been very useful, but were simply not available. Today, although these methods are successfully used by large organizations and governments around the world, they have not previously been made easily adaptable to small business. The intent of this book is to correct that by introducing a system of methods specifically intended for use by small businesses to anticipate and plan for the future, choose a preferred path to the future and achieve that chosen future.
Small business is personal. The United States Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration now have a category, “Nonemployer Businesses”. This category has risen from 15.4 million non-employer firms in 1997 to 24.3 million non-employer firms in in 2015. Non-employer firms can be reasonably defined as single person businesses. The owner does everything! Technology and the Internet have allowed small businesses to conduct business around the world, at low cost. In the 1970s a telephone call from the U.S. to Seoul, South Korea cost over $12.00 per minute! Today, email, voice and video are free nearly everywhere. One study, by the National Small Business Association in the United States, suggested that nearly half of small businesses in the United States include five or fewer full time employees.
If you have read It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One! you will find many parallels, because In both books, the methods are the same. It’s YOUR Future…Make it a Good One! is written for individuals and families, while Small Business Foresight is written for owners and managers of small businesses. Yes, the two books are similar— in part because small business is personal.
The system of methods and tools you will learn about in this book is not complex. You will use a simple, step-by-step approach to understanding and preparing for the future, and it works! Here’s a little history of futures methods, lifted from the first chapter of It’s YOUR Future…Make it a Good One!
For thousands of years of written history, people have wanted to know about the future. They consulted witches, fortune tellers, palm readers and astrologists, but to no avail. Finally, in the twenty-first century, most of them gave up. In this electronic age, people finally realized that no one can really tell them the future. But …
Now it is possible. It is possible to understand and anticipate the future! It is even possible to influence or change the future. Not all of the future, but enough to be valuable.
In the 1950s and 1960s, think tanks and academics developed theories about anticipating the future. What was it that the think tanks found that the wizards and fortune tellers of earlier centuries had not? The answer seems so simple. The fortune tellers had focused on THE future, assuming there was only one fixed, or preordained future.
The twentieth-century thinkers changed that main assumption. They were convinced that the future is not predetermined. That realization altered everything about the way we see the future. Now, it became obvious that if the future is not fixed or predetermined, then more than one future must be available.
Finally, they realized that it is possible to change the future through the actions we take in the present. This was a whole new way to look at the future!
Military and business organizations took those theories seriously and developed practical methods to explore and prepare for the future. The methods proved successful and spread into businesses and governments around the world. Royal Dutch Shell developed scenarios that anticipated the OPEC crisis of the 1970s, to their great benefit. Futurists wrote scenarios for South Africa that changed the expected future of that nation and led to a peaceful exchange of power. Futurists raised the alarm of the millennium bug in computer systems. Business and government responded in time to avoid a disruption.
To business, the military, and governments worldwide, the concept was clear. Methods for anticipating the future work.
As a result, futures or foresight methods are now practiced around the world. As the result of recent research, these same methods have now been successfully scaled down to fit the life of one person, one family, or one small business. Anyone. This book will introduce you to futures methods and how they work; then it will lead you, step-by-step, through the futuring process in just three parts.
1. Look at your business and where it is now
2. Explore potential futures with scenarios
3. Create a strategic plan for the future—the future you want for your business
As you follow this futuring process, you will be practicing the same methods and techniques that futurists have applied successfully for large organizations over half a century.
It really is that simple.
The cover's okay, but what's inside?
That email got my attention!
That’s the first thing I should have thought about. So here’s a start, The Table of Contents. Below that, I've started posting
examples of the more than sixty illustrations inside the book, one at a time, about once per week.
Possible, Plausible, Probable and Wild cards
Here's another figure (4.5) from SMALL BUSINESS FORESIGHT. This illustrates how futurists consider future events. Nearly all events are possible, but only some events are plausible. Of the plausible events, only some are probable.
Wild card events are neither plausible nor probable, but must still be considered as possible in the future
Illustrations from SMALL BUSINESS FORESIGHT
This is an example of an illustration from “SMALL BUSINESS FORESIGHT, my latest book. This simple image shows six forces of change that exist in every small business, throughout the life of that business.
I plan to post a number of “Figures” from the book in this space at irregular intervals (there over sixty figures in the book) with very brief comments. I welcome questions, comments, or suggestions!
4.1 Forces within each of the six domains that drive your business.
Each domain is made up if several forces that will impact your business. Understanding these forces and how they may affect your business in the future is crucial to preparing and planning for the future.
2.1 Stages of Business Development
If you search Google for “business stages”, there are a lot of lists. The following table of stages is in general agreement with most of them, and fits well with my own experience. This is where you start thinking about the future of your business, no matter where your business is now on this chart.
Forces of change in a small business
Figure 4.1 (above) illustrates the forces of change wilthin a small business. Figure 4.2 shows sub-forces
The author uses the term "Domain" to describe each of the six forces of change that drive small businesses. Within each domain are sub-forces. the sub-forces may vary with industries, practices, and individual businesses.
Creating a Trend Line
Figure 4.4 This diagram was used (with no data)in Small Business Foresight as well as in It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One! to illustrate time series data and a trend line. This illustration was related to a forecast of numbers of centenarians that would be living in the world up to and including 2050. It also illustrates the risks of forecasting, as the actual population of centenarians worldwide of was about 450,000, more than double the forecast. The current projection for centenarians in 2050 has been raised to 3,676,000!
A recent interview about Small Business Foresight
I had a pleasant early-morning interview with professional futurist Jim Blasingame of the Small Business Advocate. You can hear it here:
News Releases for Small Business Foresight
In mid-November, I started sending out news releases to newspapers, magazines, alumni groups and others. Following is an example.
I'll appreciate any suggestions!
Personal Futures Network
1917 Guava Circle
Harlingen, TX 78552
Contact: Verne Wheelwright
Phone: (956) 423-5758
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2019
Small business is different from big business!
Small business owners who plan for the long term future of their businesses find that traditional strategic planning methods are very difficult to apply to small businesses. Small Business Foresight, by Verne Wheelwright, PhD. leads readers through the steps of long term planning, shows readers how to recognize the forces of change that will impact the future of their small business, how to build scenarios of plausible futures for the business, and how to create a strategic plan for the future of the business.
Small Business Foresight includes more than 60 figures, tables and diagrams to illustrate how foresight methods work for small businesses. Easy to read and understand, this book will enable small businesses to develop a preferred future, and strategies to achieve that future.
In the United States, there are more than 30 million small businesses. However, one in five will fail in the first year, and half will close their doors within five years. Small Business Foresight will give both start-ups and mature businesses the necessary tools to imagine possible scenarios five or ten years ahead and create contingency plans to survive threats while working towards a preferred future vision. Without these tools, any business is susceptible to the ups and downs of business cycles. With these tools, a business is not only prepared to weather business cycles but capitalize on them.
Dr. Verne Wheelwright earned a graduate degree in “Studies of the Future” at the University of Houston (Clear Lake) then went on to conduct research on how to apply the methods he had learned to individuals and small businesses. His first book, It’s YOUR Future…Make it a Good One! successfully applied the methods of foresight and strategic planning to the lives of individuals. It’s YOUR Future… and the related workbook have been translated and published in several languages. Wheelwright’s more than fifty years as an owner of a small business and nearly twenty years as a professional futurist testify to the substantial experience of this author.
Next page: Book Fact Sheet
Small Business FORESIGHT
The Future of Your Business
Author: Verne Wheelwright. PhD.
Author contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Small Business Foresight
Publisher: Personal Futures Network
Distributed by: Ingram
Publication date: November 1, 2019
Hard cover: Gloss, color, case-wrap
Dimensions: 6x9 (6.25x9.25x.75) 260 pages
List Price: $29.95
Markets: Small business owners, Futurists,
Entrepreneurship students, Foresight students, Libraries,
Book also includes: More than 60 figures, tables, and illustrations
A Small Business Workshop in Houston Texas
A Book Review of Small Business Foresight
The US Review of Books reviewed Small Business Foresight in May 2020. Here's their review:
Small Business Foresight: The Future of Your Business
by Verne Wheelwright, Ph.D.
Personal Futures Network
book review by Mihir Shah
"The point here is simply that the Futures Wheel is flexible, and you can use it to explore or think through nearly any situation."
Award-winning author of It’s YOUR Future...Make it a Good one!, Wheelwright delivers another gem that is both spectacular and necessary in its unpacking of the small business methods through which one can anticipate impactful global and local factors. At a time when infectious diseases are ravaging the globe, small businesses are one of the hardest-hit entities. This timely piece provides the tools and metrics to not only understand how to navigate through the various stages of business development but also to have enough foresight to anticipate any changing economic or technological trends that will almost certainly affect any small business.
This work includes numerous charts and trend lines to demonstrate the value of external forces. In particular, STEEP (social, technological, economical, ecological, political), SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats), and the Futures Wheel help create awareness for the future of small businesses regardless of where the owner is in the eight designated stages of development. In addition to the tools, the author provides his audience with the relatability factor by connecting his commentary to popular socio-cultural works such as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.
Coming from the experience and knowledge of a professional futurist, what this book provides beyond anything else is a diverging perspective from the sometimes singular-focused business owner who believes sheer competitive drive will be enough to succeed in all social and economic landscapes. While Wheelwright’s work is nothing short of a manual for small businesses to adjust to the ever-evolving trends, its comprehensive nature combined with its simplicity to understand complex business concepts like vulnerability analysis and contingency planning makes this ideal for everyone ranging from the layman who aspires to initiate a small business to someone who has been operating a solo business for many years.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review