My partners and I have worked with hundreds of independent business people. They are a fabulous bunch who have, in most cases, built a good business out of an idea. Their knowledge, charm, and fortitude led them to a position of relative success. Some of these businesses are churning out profit and keeping many people well employed. Some periodically have a hard time making ends meet and in some cases are masked by a façade of strength as they repeatedly struggle to make the next payroll and pay for their employee’s insurance.
Both extremes, highly successful and those who are cash-challenged, benefit from streamlining their business processes. For both types, business logistics, operations, and marketplaces are changing at a rampant pace. Entire industry segments can come and go in a decade. Technology is a large part of why we can adapt quickly, but there are other factors as well.
It goes well beyond technology. Our key beliefs, ideals, and standards are morphing before our eyes and changes are not only inevitable but, in many cases, already done. What had separated us from our competition may not even interest current buyers.
So, what do we do to stay competitive, to grow and prosper? It is time to “think outside of the box” as the cliché goes. Everyone is conditioned by the past. I think the way I do, because it fed my values and desires and, dare I say it, my ego. Technology is opening new ways of operating and new ways of tracking processes. Companies looking towards the future do not just store data for reports but set up systems which act on changing conditions without having to wait until someone notices problems.
Think about these few steps you can take to help you, and me, get out of our own way.
- Seek help from those you don’t know. Select a few people who may be able to look at your business, how you are running it, and how your industry is changing. Ask them if they see a long-term future in your business. You might be surprised how you will respond to any answer.
- Look outside your current obvious competitors for the game-changer. Uber and Lyft are smashing traditional cab businesses. One of my favorites has been the evolution of watching movies – starting in movie theaters, television let people see movies at home. Then VHS and Beta tapes started to change when people watched movies Tapes and DVDs declined due to cable networks and on-demand programming which in turn are being replaced by Netflix and other subscription services. Similar changes are happening in every industry.
- Watch your own data, apply predictive analytics to help you see change before it is too late for you to react. Yes, the clues are there, and they are screaming at you every day. You and your team are too busy to even look at them. You might need help in translating the clues so you can see them clearly and quickly. The good news is it doesn’t take much to let the systems do most of the work for you. For that, you may wish to hire someone professionally trained to help you look outside of the box of using analytics inside your company..
What I am simply saying is get help to look outside of your box before you find yourself on the outside looking in. Don’t believe me? Ask any Cab company what is taking their business away from them.