No one has a crystal ball that can peer into the future, but certain trends appear to be in the making and are worth considering now. Although knowing how environmental forces are going to impact your business is difficult, they really do matter. Take the weather, for example: You're subconsciously aware of the force, but not until a big storm comes do you really pay attention. The important part, like everything in strategic planning, is to figure out which trends matter to your business. Huge successes can come from being aware of environmental forces, as I show you in this section.
Your operating environment is influenced by several general areas. These areas summarize the external environment every organization operates in. Refer back to Figure 10-1 to get a clear picture of influences in your operating environment.
Remember your operating environment is the outside circle influencing your business. Some of these trends and issues may even appear to come and go in slow motion. You may not need to watch them religiously, but having an eye on them can be the key to your company's boom — or bust. Although some of these issues may seem ridiculous to you, they may be someone else's reality.
In the next several sections, you discover ...