I think that only thing that will never change is that everything will always change. The question is: How do we deal with change? I help several companies with their marketing efforts as a result of being in the printing business and I always start by asking a lot of questions. Most of the time, regardless of the answer I get, my next question is, “Why?” When the answer is “because we’ve always done it this way” I turn over in my grave. Oh wait, I’m not dead yet, I meant to say I cringe.
“The old road is rapidly changing. Get out of the new road if you can’t lend a hand, for the times they are changing.” Bob Dylan wrote that in 1963. It’s more true today than it was then. Today, change is not only happening quickly, but the rate of change is increasing. Accelerating change is here to stay and if you don’t learn to embrace it you will eventually be swallowed by it.
Some things to consider:
- “Indoor plumbing?? That will never work. Who wants people to poop in their house?”
- “That whole internet thing is just a fad. My business doesn’t need a website.”
- “One gigabyte of hard drive space is all a pc will ever need.” (Bill Gates 1982)
- A wagon wheel makers thought in 1910: ”Horseless Carriage? You’ve got to be kidding me. That will never work.” He was out of business shortly thereafter.
Most businesses that fail, fail for the same reason: Failure to recognize new trends in their industry and adapt accordingly. The second tier to that reason is failure to recognize new technologies for business in general, new trends in marketing and failing to anticipate and adapt.
Some examples: I used to work for a video distribution company in the 90′s. The video rental industry was founded in the 80′s by small independent “mom and pop’s”. As time went by corporations like Blockbuster came along and swallowed up many of the mom and pop’s. The advent of the DVD changed the margins considerably in our niche market and the owners of the business failed to see what was coming. Long story short: I quit and found a similar opportunity in a different industry that was 10 years behind video and that was indoor tanning lotion manufacturing and distribution All of my co-workers thought I was crazy. So did the owners. I took a new job making less than half of what I was making in the job I just quit. You probably can see what is coming next. Two years later I was making more money in indoor tanning lotion sales than I ever made in video in a growing industry while my former employer was going out of business and my former co-workers were unemployed.
I did very well working for a manufacturer and distributor of indoor tanning lotions but that industry followed in the footsteps of video rental. I was fortunate to have the experience to see the same tell-tale signs that it was time to hit the exit 6 years later. It turned out to be the right move.
I titled this article “Embracing Change”. Maybe a better title would be: “Anticipating Change.” I can’t emphasize enough that you should be doing both. I’m not saying always jump on the next bandwagon of change because some changes dead end. What I am saying is that you need to always keep your eyes wide open to opportunity and if you can react (or better yet anticipate) and adapt to the next good change for your industry than your competitors are able to do then you will have the leg up.
This article is the “mother” of some other articles yet come. I’m going to cover trends in marketing, trends in technology for small business and many other way’s that embracing and anticipating change can help keep you in the 5% rather than the the 95%. What do those numbers mean? 95% of small business’es don’t make it for 5 years.
Don’t just “cope with” or “adapt” to change. Embrace it. See it as an opportunity to get ahead of your competition. Once you understand that change is the only constant, and that by embracing it, and using it to make things as good for yourself as you can you will truly be on top of things.
I’ll end here with credit as it’s due… The inspiration for this article was from a gentleman in front of a convenience store who asked me for some spare change. I gave him $5 and said no.
by Matt Fortenbery
CEO Total Printing Solution
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