You’ve seen the symptoms:
A continuing decline in income.
A dwindling customer base.
Unconventional approaches being taken by opposition firms.
A reluctance by those in control to admit there is a problem.
A progressive departure of key people.
Uncertainty, resulting in the organization freezing up.
Why is there an insufficient or poor response by business leaders to the seemingly obvious?
I believe it’s a combination of factors:
People become complacent. They learn to do a certain job, they become more proficient at it, and by putting their heads down and focusing on the job at hand, they become unaware of what’s happening around them. They have reached a comfort zone in terms of their daily operations, and they could carry on like this for years.
One day, they “wake up” and discover to their horror that they are going out of business.
The environment around them has changed, and now technology, governmental actions, economic circumstances, and socio cultural changes have combined to produce a changed world.
The reaction to this scenario usually follows a pattern:
Disbelief and a refusal to accept that the company could go out of business in a short period of time unless something is done, and or, a panic stricken response and some knee jerk reactions like cutting prices or going on a selective cost cutting campaign.
This is certainly too little, too late and certainly not the right thing anyway.
So here are a few points for you to consider if you have reached this situation:
- You need to decide what business you are in, and what business you should be in. By that I mean how much has your offering to the market become less suitable?
- Ask yourself, am I truly catering for the needs of the marketplace?
What does the market really want and what is it that you are currently offering? What’s the gap?
I have seen “computer people” being overtaken by IT and social media changes, attorneys being replaced with on line do it yourself options, medical practitioners being left behind. Your environment is changing and one thing is a certainty, the future will never be the same as the past. Also, success is never final.
A refusal for whatever reason to address the future of your company is one of the worst things you can do to the company.
So what should be done?
- You need outside help
It’s difficult if not impossible to change an organization from within. If it’s even of a reasonable size, trying to convince others of the need to change and also what it is they have to do is almost impossible. Politics, old scores, resentment and complacency get in the way. Do your homework and find yourself a highly recommended consultant. If you can find a good independent consultant with a good track record, that’s a good way to go. Also, it’s better if he is not from your industry, because the prime problem is not going to be how you practice dentistry or law or the manufacture of the product. It’s going to be the fact that you have strayed from what the market needs, and what needs to be done about it.
- In summary, what needs to be done is an external and an internal analysis of your business environment, to find out what’s really happening. What’s the competition doing? What laws have been passed by government that will impact the way you do business? What is the real financial status of your company?
- A SWOT chart needs to be drawn up to highlight which areas need attention.
- Your new strategy can then be developed with an emphasis on who needs to do what and by when.
- Implementation and follow up are the critical areas of any strategy.
The bottom line is this:
Failing to look into the future to determine how the changing environment is going to affect your business is one of the more serious mistakes a business leader can make.
Go through that exercise and alter your course if required, while time is still on your side.