“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow” — Anonymous
Difficult times mean different things to different companies. While it presents equal opportunities for a company to thrive, it may also signal the doom of others. Businesses die for so many reasons. Business failure refers to a company ceasing operations following its inability to make a profit or to bring in enough revenue to cover its expenses.
An organisation’s response to certain parameters would determine how far they would go in trying times. This includes:
Needs change in times of crisis. No matter what your product is… review and redesign to meet prevalent needs. Uncle Ben’s rice was born during the Second World War as soldiers were in dire need of a kind of rice that could cook very fast. People are not loyal to your products; they are only loyal to their needs.
Consumption patterns and priority change in times of crisis. Who would ever think that hand sanitisers, hand washes and face masks would ever blow like this? COVID-19 has taught us better.
A business that cannot respond to change would in no time sink into oblivion. In his book, the Origin Of Species, Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change.”
This explains why the ‘almighty’ dinosaurs are nowhere to be found, but the common earthworms are everywhere. It explains why the ‘almighty’ Nokia phones have all disappeared from the market and Infinix is taking charge.
Another pathetic story of what resistance to change can cost a company is that of Kodak. Kodak held the world spellbound through photography for over 131 years, but ultimately ended up bankrupt. The tragic end of Kodak is a pointer to the fact that change is an integral part of the evolution of any formidable venture.
There are a lot of reasons why Kodak failed, but refusing to adapt to the changing market and not being on the cutting edge of photo-technology is the prime reason. The slow response of Kodak in embracing digital photography signaled its doom.
Kodak lost its relevance because of its inability to take the lead in moving from producing traditional film cameras to digital technology. By the time Kodak decided to move from analog to digital, the digital market was already starting its decline.
New technology had emerged and Kodak fought to remain relevant, but “change” gladiators had already won the battle. They delayed digital transformation and paid the supreme price for it. No business owns tomorrow. It is not by strength; it is by being adaptable to change.
In business, cash flow is king. You might want to ask the nine out of 10 businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. Cash flow management determines which business would crash, struggle, survive or thrive. To capture it succinctly, it means doing everything possible (and legally) to ensure that money flows into your business as quickly as possible and exits as slowly as possible. If you still want your business to flow, then mind your cash flow.
Winston Churchill said: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” If you want your business to thrive, you have to be incredibly credible. Most times, people don’t really buy what you have, but who you are. Do people see you as being honest? Do you show up on time for delivery? Do you deliver what you promised? Do you have a signature of excellence on what you do? How do you handle customers’ satisfaction and complaint?
Our credibility is our ‘walking’ billboard. Most businesses grow through referrals and people would only refer you to others based on their perceived credibility of you. Make yourself contagiously referable.
I have often said that your poverty status is a reflection of your inability to think creatively. The purpose of every difficult time is to put a demand on our creativity. When creativity shows up and is acted upon, scarcity can be transformed into wealth. If your business is not creating something new to meet newer needs, then it is as good as you are no longer existing.
The greatest hindrance to success is not failure, but the previous success. When you let your previous success get too much into your head, you would sabotage your own effort to push for more. Our previous success can hinder us from moving to the next level when we become so full of them.
Don’t build your future on your previous successes; let them give you more impetus to be more successful. You must continuously work at breaking your own records and not building monuments around them. Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves, to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by today and to do our work with more force than ever before.
To achieve great success, we must develop an infinite capacity to outstrip our previous records.
Great companies make continuous improvement. Rory Vaden said: “Success is never owned; it is only rented and the rent is due every day.” The price that every organisation would have to pay for success is continuous improvement.
The secret of sustained success is continuous improvement. Marshall Goldsmith said: “What got you here won’t get you there.” When you strive every day to become a little better, soon, you would be a master at what you do.
The Japanese economy was revolutionised through the culture of unending improvement, called Kaizen. The competitive success of Japan in the world’s market place is greatly as a result of their implementation of the Kaizen concept in their corporations. Instead of making improvement on occasional basis, the Kaizen culture looks for uninterrupted, ongoing and incremental daily change.
Whether you are creating a new business plan or revamping an old one, knowing what your competitors are up to can save your business. Your competitors can kill your business if you are not offering something different from theirs. Doing a competitive analysis can give you a serious edge above your competitors and buoy up your market share. This analysis gives you a chance to look closely at your market and your competition, to learn what the others are doing and why.
Companies that yearly update their plans should always include a competitive analysis to catch changes in the marketplace and in their competition, while startups need to know the landscape before they begin.
To thrive in the midst of your competitors, your business must have a Unique Selling Point (USP). Though you must not make your competitors the object of your focus, but neglecting them can also be at your own peril. Study and know your competitors, learn from their mistakes, know their strengths and consolidate on their weaknesses.