Trapped In The Past And No Future

Richard Shrapnel's 'Trapped In The Past And No Future'.

When you have no vision for the future, you will turn back to your past. And in business, living in the past is a sure road to failure. But crafting your future as a continuously evolving journey will ensure you are always living in the future.


Active Knowledge Question:

What are you doing every day to help you see your future?


Unable To See

It’s logical, if you are unable to see the future, if you have no vision of where to go, then you will simply continue on the course already set. You will continue to live out the past and repeat that which you did yesterday.

In business, and life generally, the principle of living in the past can be dangerous for your continued growth and viability. Moreover, without growth, you will wither and die.

Your customers’ needs are evolving, your competitors are searching for better ways to meet those needs, and everything that may impact your customers and your business is changing. Your business cannot standstill nor just repeat what it has done in the past.

But there can be real challenges in releasing the past and allowing the future to emerge. Most businesses resist change and find safety in the past and even when decline sets in, it takes a lot to shake the hold that the past has on the business and its leaders.

Also, there is often too greater a focus placed on ‘knowing the future’ before you step forward. There is always more data and analysis that can be gathered and undertaken, and there will always be unknows and risks.

However, if you view your business as being on a continuous journey that is evolving and each turn in the road can reveal new opportunities, then you will find your business developing a ‘taste’ for this life.

Evolving, stepping out and reinventing itself will be actions that become second nature for your business, and your future will always be assured. The big gambles will not be necessary.


Starting The Journey

To commence the journey of your business is pretty easy, you just need to take one step after the other, keep stepping forward and you will find momentum building.

I find a simple guiding principle such as ‘better every day’ will start this journey and very quickly reveal new opportunities. If everyone in your business is tasked with doing whatever their role may be ‘better every day’, then everyday change will be occurring and all across your business growth will be seeded.

However, in building momentum and keeping everyone on the same course, you need an anchor and a beacon.

The anchor is the purpose for which your business was founded and exists today. No, its not profit and more profit, that’s an outcome, not a catalyst. Your business commenced with a clear view of a customer and a need. This is your anchor; who is the customer, what is their need and what value are you seeking to deliver to them?

Your beacon becomes ‘the light’ that will guide you along your path. And that light becomes ‘increasing customer value’. What can you do to increase the value you deliver to our customers in fulfilment of their needs? And how can you meet the needs of more customers every day?

You can now see why the mantra ‘better every day’ becomes essential but also the reason it must be anchored in a customer need and then guided through discovering ways to improve the value delivered.

Often ‘value’ is defined in dollars and expressed as price or price against product specifications – more ‘bang for your buck’ type of thinking. But this is only a small element of value, and I believe the wrong direction to head in if you wish to build the competitiveness of your business. The value should be defined as ‘fulfilment of the customer’s need’. If your product or service fulfils that need better than anyone else, then that is where you want to position yourself. From this position, you can outcompete everyone in your market and price is not a space you need to compete in.


Making The Most Of The Journey

On this journey, you are seeking to be a leader and not a follower. You do not want to be running down the path that a competitor or the industry generally has set. You want to strike out on your own journey and path. And create your own unique future that brings your business’s capabilities to the forefront.

To make the most of your journey, there are seven actions that you can take:

  1. Invest in yourself as a leader, as growth will only occur if you as a leader are also growing.
  2. Understand the eco-system that supports growth and make it one of the first tasks completed as you commence your journey.
  3. Engage mavericks who will ignore the past and the status quo and focus solely on the journey forward. They are also far more likely to engage in unorthodox strategies in creating the future.
  4. Learn to listen carefully to what is happening in and around your chosen market and do not let these important messages get lost in all the noise that occurs in our world today.
  5. Set your own rules of customer value and need, and do not just follow everyone else.
  6. Allow ‘imagination’ to be freed in your business so that everyone is looking for opportunities to grow.
  7. Measure the right things, and remember profit is an outcome and you must focus on the catalysts.


If you build the future of your business every day it simply becomes part of who you are as a business and growth will always be present.


An entirely new level of performance.

Want to become a part of the Entrepreneurs+ Community and learn how to make your business competitively fitJoin now.


All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel