Do you adapt or react?

Do you adapt your business to an ever changing environment or simply panic and react when your business is failing? If it is the later, it maybe too late.

It is in our very nature to be scared of change, to fear the unknown and be afraid of failure. Yet nothing is as important to the survival of your business as change. In order to continue to meet the needs of your customer the worst thing you can do is stand still. History is full of examples of large and small businesses that failed to change and that are now extinct.

Two Companies that were once pioneering leaders in their field are now left behind picking up the crumbs

Blockbuster – This video-rental chain survived the transition from VHS to DVD just fine but then failed to adapt to the next big change. Analysts say Blockbuster failed and went bankrupt due to a reluctance to transition to an e-commerce and digital-based marketing platform. It had everything in place to adapt and to evolve the business to survive, and stay at the top of their industry, but they failed to do this and stood still. Now it is chasing its industry instead of leading it.

Sony – Not so long ago, the Walkman was the ipod of its generation. Sony dominated in other markets too, such as TVs, cameras, video recorders, and many other consumer electronics. As Sony became a huge corporation involved in everything from film to music, it lost the edge on its core business, their consumer products. There was also a shift in the industry from hardware to software, which put the emphasis on the brains of the device rather than the circuitry. As a result, competitors like LG, Samsung, Vizio, Apple, and the various makers of cell phones—which of course come with cameras these days—have outpaced this old-school innovator.

So what can we learn?

Complacency – “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” mentality.
Many businesses are too quick to adopt this way of thinking. A plumber who is fully booked, a restaurant that’s always full, who can blame an owner for not wanting to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour? But the key is focusing on continuous improvement to sustain long-term success.

Losing Focus – Small business can easily be lured into unrelated industries, thus stretching the business. In most cases this will not only result in failure, but also have a negative impact on its core products and services.

Ignoring your Competitors – Many business owners believe they are also impervious to competition as a result of their “superior service and better prices”. However long term success comes from understanding what the market wants and what motivates people to choose you over a competitor.

Not looking ahead – Business owners are often known for resisting new technology. Whether influenced by cost, time, or knowledge. They often find themselves playing catch up while spending more and getting mixed results due to a steeper learning curve. It happened in the 1980’s with personal computers, the 1990’s with the internet, and today with social media.

Not Changing With the times – Whether by denial or lack of attention, business owners often miss changes in their local markets. Consumer’s buying habits, new products, or new standards for service are all things that must continuously be reviewed, analyzed, and modified as needed.

The observations above require action if they are to be addressed. Christmas or the New Year may be a good time to sit down and reflect on changes in the marketplace and how to address them within your business. Not a quick task, but if this can be distilled into several points of action, then it will be a worthwhile exercise.

If you need any help with your planning or implementation, let me know. If I can’t help directly, then I know a great business adviser who probably can.

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Nigel White
My career has given me insights into large and small businesses across many sectors. Academically, I have a MA (Strategic Marketing) and use this understanding to provide consultancy and advice to all clients I work with. Very high on my agenda: needs analysis, service, and quality.