Several years ago I left a manufacturing company and started my own business in digital signage, a new technology. I had many years of great experience and a good business education, so I was very confident. I expected to use those assets to grow a successful business quickly. Although the assets helped, I discovered they can also hold me back or limit my success. Although the basic fundamentals still work, simply repeating the things that made your business successful 10 or 20 years ago will not make it successful today. Stop and think about how many people you know who launched successful businesses years ago who have failed in their attempts to do the same recently. I know several who refuse to change and continue to do what made them successful in the past.
The way most successful companies do business today is very different than it was just a few years ago, and changes continue to happen even more quickly. If you don’t stay up with the important changes (not all of them) you will be left behind very quickly. Companies, like people, are either getting better and growing or falling behind and shrinking. Someone who’s opinion I respect very much told me that in today’s economy your company has to grow by at least 10 percent each year just to stay the same, and I believe that. Following are some of the things that have become more important in order to keep growing.
1. Keep up with technology. Not just the technology used in your business but technology used by your customers and the general public. New technology can offer more opportunities for growth and efficiency, but it can also make your product irrelevant and useless.
2. Remain flexible. Because changes come more quickly you have to be flexible enough to change more quickly. Keep up with the changes and adjust as necessary.
3. Get educated. Continuous education is now so critical that an education plan should be part of your business plan. Your people have to be continually educated about your products and the new technologies you use. The business owner or manager also has to keep up with what is happening with your customers, their customers and around the world. The world continues to get smaller, and what happens in the U.S. and other countries has a large effect on your business.
4. Keep an open mind. It’s human nature to establish beliefs and opinions then just hear the things that support and confirms those beliefs and opinions. Not keeping your mind open to new opinions and possibilities will severely restrict your growth.