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Horizon Scanning for Small Business

Horizon scanning, aka, observing the world for potential threats to your business. Fortune 500 companies have entire departments dedicated to this! But what about you as a small business owner? Who's working for you to keep an eye out for threats to your business?

Below are key resources the small business community can utilize for creating a comprehensive view of local, regional, and global activity to monitor for potential impact to your business.


  • Local news agencies: TV, paper, and social media feeds

  • Social Media: Trending items in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

  • City Health Departments


  • Depending on the size of the town/city you live in: Local news agencies: TV, paper, and social media feeds

  • State government organizations

  • Social Media: Trending items in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

  • County Health Departments


Automated Horizon Scanning Options

Based on the number of potential sources for information that can be used for horizon scanning, it can look overwhelming to take up horizon scanning for your business yourself. If you've taken a try at in-house horizon scanning, but are finding that you're short on time or bandwidth to incorporate horizon scanning into your routine, there are options for automated horizon scanning provided by a variety of vendors.

Two excellent options available to businesses of all sizes include:

- OnSolve

- EverBridge

The added bonus of companies like these is that they provide communication capabilities for their clients that enables easy communication with your employees and key stakeholders, in both normal operations and during crisis situations.

Tips and Tricks to Optimize your Horizon Scanning Routine:

  1. Make this part of your morning routine to jump start your day. This can help you direct your energies in case there is a new development that could impact your business. And it helps to take as detached a view as you can to minimize emotional involvement in the horizon scanning process.

  2. Use a news aggregation service where possible, and if it asks you to choose your preferred sources of news, make sure you include sources that you think often conflict with your world view. This helps eliminate blind spots caused baby the algorithms that populate your news feeds, as those algorithms feed on clicks, so if your news sources are all similar, you will find yourself increasingly silo'd in your ability to observe what is happening in the world. I prefer the Ground News app, as it accounts for political bias in showing you news, allowing you to see if a potential news item would be a blindspot to you based on your political leanings.

  3. Take advantage of the trending functions of social media. Often social media will provide the first glimpse of important events as they happen, before the primary news channels get the stories out. This can give you a jump on shifts in your business environment which can help you focus your energies on better understanding potential threats to your business as the information grows and becomes more clear via normal news distribution channels.

  4. Sign up for updates from major national and global organizations where possible. Reviewing these communications will give you a sense of what the focus of various bureaucracies are, giving you, the nimble small business owner, an advantage in making adjustments to your business quickly when needed.

  5. Put your biases on the shelf when Horizon Scanning! Remember the goal is just to see what's happening in the world that can impact your business. Our biases can create blind spots in our ability to monitor risk, so purposely try to include sources of information that challenge your views and beliefs. This is another great reason to use the news app Ground News, as it shows news from all publications across the political spectrum. Putting your biases on hold won't be fun at first, but it will be very helpful in keeping you aware of risks to your business, and it will get easier with practice!

At the end of the day, Horizon Scanning is something that any size of business can do, and it provides increased confidence in the preparedness and resilience of your business. With today's technology, being aware of potential risks to your business is easier than ever.

If you have tips and tricks for Horizon Scanning that you've found helpful, we'd love to hear them! Let us know via the comments for this blog, or reach out to us on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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