For businesses, typically the long-standing types, it’s becoming difficult to pin down in what direction to point their efforts. And, many have made their decisions too late or not at all and went under. This despite having all the means to actually leverage their business by exploiting new opportunities.
Take, for instance, a company that had a chain of long-standing quick photo print stores or a company that produced typewriters in the late 80′s and 90′s. Most people would conclude that their days are numbered as we moved into the digital age.
Actually this was not true. At least, it did not have to be.
These long-standing companies typically had very strong sales channels with nation-wide networks and distribution systems. They had a lot of cash and a lot of influence. More importantly, their long-standing position on the markets they served created loyalty between the company and their customers.
The problem in many cases was the higher “seasoned” rigid management and not the introduction of the PC. In fact, the digital age presented many non-digital solution companies vast opportunities. Yet, if you asked the management of a typewriter company, for instance, about what they do then the answer was most probably that they produced “top quality typewriters”.
What exactly was their mistake?
Especially in these times its important for any business to regularly take a step back and review things with a near spiritual approach to what their business actually is. Who are we? What are we doing exactly? What are we providing and to who are we providing it to? Classical questions. And, yet, many business fail to do this. They suffer and even go under in today’s fast moving and changing market.
The failure of a typewriter company was exactly that. They believed that typewriters were their business. It was most certainly not. The typewriter was simply a product. Actually their business was in “Word-Processing Solutions”. Given their huge distribution system, sales force, cash reserves and, most importantly, loyal clientage they had every means to become the word-processing company of the world.
The music and, in particular, the movie industry have only very recently began to loosely understand this. For instance, when these industries are asked about who their clients are they typically responded with the answer that it was their outlets, their distributors. Obviously, it is actually their end-users, you and me, who are their clients.
Sure, there are many other factors involved to insuring the continuation of a business in rapidly changing markets and industries. Yet, today, you will still see many longstanding business go under because they simply have not “repeatedly” asked themselves about who they are and what they do.
Improvise, adapt, overcome and prosper.