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Small Business Foresight

Small Business Foresight-COMING SOON!

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.

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. As I progress with the book, I'll share sections with you on this web site


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.