O'Reilly logo

The Definitive Business Plan, 3rd Edition by Sir Richard Stutely

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD AT LARGE 89
OTHER RESEARCH
Everyone must have heard of market research where consumers or other groups of
prospective buyers are questioned via the Internet (e.g. take a look at Survey Monkey),
telephone, postal or personal surveys. You can also observe activity at the point of sale
go and watch what customers ask for, put back on the shelves or buy. You might also test
the market by advertising and selling the product or a prototype in a limited market
area. You can test the potential with an advertisement inviting readers to ask for more
information. You can even invite advance orders, so long as you genuinely intend to meet
any commitments that you make.
Understanding the world at large
There is an almost frightening range of external influences that affect you. A few things to
mull over are outlined in the following paragraphs demographics, the economy, politi-
cal factors, pressure groups, globalisation and technology.
These are in a constant state of change. You will find that you can predict trends in
most variables and forecast how they affect your business. Moreover, you can develop a
strategy to cope with those that cannot necessarily be foreseen, such as a technological
breakthrough or a sudden conflict in one of your overseas markets. Major opportunities
and threats should be added to your SWOT analysis. You will minimise surprises by under-
standing the possibilities quality newspapers, journals and specific country, industry
and technology reports all help you keep abreast of developments.
Disaster recovery
Every business should identify the disasters that could strike and develop a policy
for rapid response. Banks have arrangements so that they can recover customer
information and keep trading using remote computers if their own systems suffer
catastrophic failure. Oil companies operating in hostile territory have response
plans for dealing with kidnappings of senior personnel. Airlines have procedures
for informing and counselling relatives and managing press relations in the event
of air crashes. You can instantly see the best-prepared airlines by watching the news
when tragedies do, sadly, occur.
Make a list of the disasters threats that might affect you and make sure that
you have well-rehearsed plans in place for dealing with them. Then hope that the
plans are never needed – but do not forget to keep them current.
t
90 CHAPTER 5 KNOW THE WORLD
There is no education like adversity.
BENJAMIN DISRAELI
PEOPLE
The structure of the population is constantly undergoing change locally, nationally and
globally. This affects consumer markets and the industries that serve them, which in turn
affects a broader range of industrial and commercial suppliers. Consumer demands from
the new middle classes in emerging economies, especially China and India, will be signifi-
cant in the coming decades.
The age structure of the population has obvious implications for your products and
services. In the developed countries including North America, Europe and Japan, the
average age of the population is increasing, due to the trend towards smaller families,
healthier lifestyles and longer life spans. As a result, the physical size of these countries’
grey markets is increasing.
Less developed economies tend to have high birth rates and very young populations.
Various events cause bulges in particular age groups of populations (youths, young mar-
ried couples, the middle-aged). An obvious example is the post-war baby boom in many
countries in the 1950s. Another example reflects the bulge in the birth rate in the oil-
producing Middle East Gulf states in the 1970s when rocketing oil prices caused massive
increases in regional wealth.
In addition, the stages of economic development of these countries with varying
focus on agriculture, industrialisation and services affect occupations and incomes.
Spending patterns are also affected by movement: immigration, emigration, rural to
urban, city to suburbs and so on. Racial and cultural patterns vary, family sizes gener-
ally decrease, average income generally increases except that the arrival or closure of a
major industry affects employment and wealth in specific areas.
THE ECONOMY
Economic development and growth alter the structure of the economy. As intimated
above, this leads to shifts from agrarian to low-tech industry. In turn, this develops into
high-tech businesses, and as wealth increases, service industries become increasingly
important. Again, as mentioned elsewhere, watch what happens as China and India
become the new economic superpowers.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required