Small Business Advice
What business problem keeps you up at night?
"Technology has advanced more in the last thirty years than in the previous two thousand. The exponential increase in advancement will only continue." ~ Neils Bohr
Entrepreneurs and leaders are constantly worrying. Ask any entrepreneur you know what is keeping them up at night, and almost without exception, they will say they worry about new technology eliminating their business.
Just consider how social media has changed how people communicate -- it is clearly the preferred method over written correspondence. And what about bookstores? Electronic delivery of books has all but eliminated them.
Amazon is now the largest threat to brick and mortar bookstores. Their ability to quickly deliver products makes the distance between their location and their customers a non-issue.
Consider also the financial services industry. These days, financial institutions like Ally do everything online, eliminating the cost of physical locations and giving them a tremendous cost advantage over the traditional model.
A good friend of mine operates a line of women’s clothing stores. He frequently talks about his concern that people will soon be able to order all their clothing online and get them quicker and more inexpensively than he can procure his inventory.
These are healthy concerns given the fact that technology is changing almost everything we do and how we live. Advancements are being made at a rapidly increasing pace. Driverless cars are right around the corner, and advances in medical technology are going to significantly lengthen our lives.
Clearly, entrepreneurs and leaders have reason to be concerned. It is the responsibility of every business owner to be vigilant, constantly watching for changes that will impact their operations. Ignoring them is a sure recipe for disaster.
Just being vigilant is not enough, however. There must also be a process in place to both identify relevant changes and develop a plan for responding to them.
Most small firms do not have the cash flow to support an innovation department so they rely on their customers, vendors, employees and research to feed them information about trends and changes. With so much intelligence out there, figuring out what information is relevant is probably the hardest part. It is important to approach your information-gathering efforts in a methodical way so you are able to identify which trends are meaningful and which are not.
Staying informed about what trends are on the horizon is so important. This allows you to zero in on what your firm should be concentrating on so you can formulate a plan and reduce your nightly worries.
Now go out and make sure you have a plan in place to monitor all changes that could potentially affect your firm or industry.
You can do this!!
Dr. Osteryoung has directly has assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is a bestseller on Amazon.com. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.