Change is the only constant in the business world. If your business doesn’t learn to adapt to new technologies and competitor challenges, you’ll likely find yourself out of business sooner rather than later.
There’s a long line of companies that failed because they couldn’t effectively manage change (think of Atari and Pan Am, just to name a few). On the other hand, companies such as Nokia and Hewlett-Packard veered from their original business plans to not only stay in business, but become leaders in their respective industries. Your company would be wise to emulate such companies. Read Ten Tips on Managing Change to give yourself a head start.
Business survival often comes down to recognizing those key times when the fundamentals of your business are about to change. Banks changed when automated teller machines (ATMs) were introduced, and large airlines changed when low-fare airlines starting using “lowest fare finder” technology on the Internet. Strive always to be at the forefront of changing business practices. Pay attention to trends — in technology and otherwise — within your industry. If you adapt more slowly to changing times than your competitors do, it’s often an impossible task to shorten, and ultimately reverse, this competitive gap.
To begin, assess how your business responds to change. Honesty counts here. Do you regard change as a threat or an opportunity? The bigger your company is, the more you may be inclined to think you’re built to last. But becoming massive is no guarantee against becoming irrelevant. If your company doesn’t want to be left behind, it must anticipate and lead change. After all, your company will maintain a competitive advantage only so long as it has the ability to change faster than the competition.
The Internet is quickly polarizing companies into two types: those who disrupt their market and those who don’t survive the transition. As a business owner, you must lead change for your company. Foster an environment that compels your employees to adopt a new mind-set, to give up their comfortable activities and learn new ones.
Your best defense in the midst of change is to mold a company that thrives on it. Be sure to read Committing to Change for additional help on this topic.