The Change Factor

"When you’re finished changing, you’re finished." - Benjamin Franklin

Of all the things that will test your patience and resolve, change is perhaps the hardest to deal with. Yet change is the one thing in business that is constant. Change will always affect your business, be it changing tastes, changes in competition, changes in technology, or changes in the general economy. Sometimes that change may help your business, other times it will hurt it.

Imagine being in the video rental business in, say, 1984.

Gold Mine!! You could open a video store on any street corner for the cost of the videos and be profitable by the end of the month.

Imagine being in it in 2017.

In thirty years, the corner video store has come, succeeded, declined, and will ultimately vanish like the dodo bird as everybody downloads their favorite movies from Netflix, iTunes®, or similar outfits.

Things change and change fast. You must always be on the lookout for changes in YOUR business environment. Too many people expect their businesses to simply keep on doing what they’ve always done while outside forces eat away at their very foundations.

Sometimes the winds of change or twists of fate happen so fast they catch even the most astute entrepreneurs off guard. Unforeseen and unpredictable events like 9/11 or stock market and real estate crashes can bring emotional and financial calamity to an entire company.

Legendary entrepreneurs do their best to counter this danger by being constantly aware that market conditions can sometimes change rapidly. They prepare contingency plans to deal with the worst-case scenarios and they are always on the lookout for new horizons that offer expanded opportunities. Good advance planning and the willingness to change direction quickly and effectively help minimize damage to their market shares, reputations, and incomes. They waste no time in selfpity or recriminations, but concentrate on setting new goals and moving forward. They treat each new set of market changes as opportunities to improve their positions, vis-à-vis their competitors and to profit from their own visions and preparedness.

As soon as you see, or better still, predict changes in your marketplace, you must take action!

To innovate and deal with change before you HAVE to change, never stop asking these questions:

  • How can we do it faster?
  • How can we add value? What features can we add?
  • How can we sell more? Keep customers longer? Increase referrals?
  • What does the competition do better than us?
  • Where is the future growth going to be geographically?
  • What are they doing in other industries that we could import to ours?
  • How are others connecting with customers using new media?
  • How can we spread our risk by being in more than one market or adding additional revenue streams?

It pays to remember that change scares most people, especially employees, partners, and suppliers. People will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo. But you, like all great entrepreneurs, must continually challenge it.

Embrace change, seek it out. Besides death and taxes, it’s the only thing you can count on.

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