There’s no doubting that these are trying times for every business, as they struggle to achieve the goals that were originally set by them in the good old days before credit crunches, recessions, global downturns and the like.
There’s also no doubt that the way business is conducted has changed forever. Gone are the days when we knew if we lost a customer, another would come along shortly. We only had to produce good quality products at reasonable prices and customers would stampede to our door. If it was ever true, they will never occur again in the same way and type.
I was thinking about how some businesses still are run as if the major global, national and local competitive changes had never occurred. These are my takes on some of the biggest mistakes these companies still make:
1) Wasting resources: Staff are not utilised to the best of their abilities and their potential not tapped into. A conservative estimate of this waste is to the tune of at least 10%, probably much more.
2) Unwilling to take risks. ‘We have done this for many years now. Why change?’ Even market leaders have to change relentlessly to stay ahead. The also-rans will just fall further behind if they don’t take calculated risks.
3) Underestimating the competition. A new product range is introduced, but you feel that it won’t gain any interest and so you carry on regardless without doing your homework on what customer reaction is.
4) Too long to make decisions. “Let’s think about it for a while…” These are the words of the uninitiated and only guarantees they will be left further behind. Companies today have to employ lean thinking methods to achieve changes far quicker than ever before.
5) Failure to do proper market research. If you think the way you did business five years ago is still ok today, you’ll soon be caught up by those who recognise that new ideas are redundant within days/weeks/months.
6) Blaming failure on things that are outside of their control. Everyone is affected by the economy, shortage of funds, government decisions, the weather, etc, etc. The winners are those who react most effectively to them, and control those things they can.
7) Reluctant to change quickly. Moore’s Law (where our knowledge of everything doubles every 18 to 24 months) is now so true in business it cannot be ignored. Resisting change as irrelevant is the death knell for any company.
8 ) Forcing change without getting buy-in. If you accept change must be made but then simply force the workforce into doing it your way, expect motivation to go down and moaning to go up.
9) Inability to learn from mistakes. Whatever challenges you faced in the past, you must learn lessons from them that can be applied in everyday situations now and in the future. Trying to do the same as before and hoping for the best is a recipe for failure.
10) Ignoring the niche markets. Your USP should be the main driver for your business, as if you try to compete in a saturated market, you had better be better than the rest at something or you’ll be dead in the water.
Doubtless you can think of more, but these are key points that I see happening in businesses that I deal with every day of the year. The warnings are clear for businesses that unless they change and stay ahead of their competition, prepare for failure. It’s that simple.
Originally published: 20 May, 2011
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