Businesses must anticipate change. It’s inevitable. | Small Business Advice – Florida Trend


QUESTION: My business is going well, but experience has taught me that I should not become complacent. How to stay competitive and ahead of the competition?

REPLY: It has been said that there are only two things in life that one can be sure of… death and taxes. I would add a third certainty … change.

My grandmother was born before the turn of the last century. During her lifetime, she witnessed the evolution of the Ford Model T into a man walking on the moon. Those of us living today have witnessed the digital evolution which is changing as you read this column.

In business, change is inevitable. There are many examples of strong companies that have lost market share or gone bankrupt because they failed to notice or misinterpret innovations in their respective fields of activity.

Kodak, founded in 1888, had a monopoly on film and development, but failed to embrace the evolution of digital cameras. Borders bookstores also did not embrace e-books and online sales marketing and filed for bankruptcy. More recently, we learned that the iconic Sears, founded in 1886, is one of the latest victims of brick and mortar due to its failure to fully recognize the threat from giant

As a business owner, you need to look beyond the current business environment and try to anticipate changes before your competition. Here are some tips you should consider:

    • Talk to Your Customers – Are Their Needs Changing? What are their competition forcing them to do and what needs can you meet?
    • Talk to your suppliers – They’re probably looking at their marketing strategy too. They can be aware of the innovations in the market. You are their customer and maybe you can help each other.
    • Join a Trade Association – While their members can be competitors, you might be surprised at how much you can learn from them in a social setting. Also check out their press releases and websites.
    • Talk to Your Employees – They deal with your customers on a daily basis and hear their issues firsthand. Involve them in your decision making and recognize their contributions. It will improve morale and happy employees will make happy customers.

In conclusion, technological advancements will continually change the way businesses small and large do business. Anticipating trends is never easy, but it’s essential for long-term success.

Gray Poehler is a volunteer for the Neapolitan chapter of SCORE.

A SCORE advisor since 2005, Gray Poehler owned and operated an independent insurance agency with 20 employees and two locations. He has obtained the Chartered Insurance Advisor designation and is familiar with personal and commercial property and casualty insurance. Areas of expertise include: corporate finance and accounting; Business strategy and planning; Commercial operations; Human resources and internal communications; Sales, marketing and public relations.

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