Checklist for change
Here’s some tips for staying ahead of the game:
Keep an eye on the edge
While the core of your business generates the most profits, it is the edges of your business where the greatest opportunities exist for creating new value. Your business can have multiple edges – geographic, age-related and industry-related.
Consider how your service or product could be exploited to appeal to these new markets. For example, in the early 2000s MGA Entertainment launched the funky Bratz dolls, targeting pre-teen girls who felt they had outgrown Mattel’s traditional Barbie. They stole a sizeable chuck of the market by exploiting an age-related edge.
Look to the future
It’s preferable to prepare for change rather than react to it. Robert and Jeremy Manford knew change was inevitable when they took over their father’s Belmont-based document storage business Compu-Stor more than 15 years ago.
“Our customer base is going paperless. I wouldn’t say it’s dead but it’s tapering off.” The brothers recognised the issue and shifted their focus to digitising paper records, along with storing digital data. They invested heavily in propriety software to allow clients to access stored information via the web.
As a result, they have been able to expand the Perth-based business to Sydney and Melbourne. “We’re in an industry that has to evolve or we’ll be left behind.”
Scan to low end of the market for threats
No one wins a price war, but you need to be aware of emerging threats at the low end of the market. Companies can build momentum fast by converting consumers who wouldn’t enter the market at a higher price point.
When they begin adding premium service or products, they challenge the dominance of established brands.
Review your branding to ensure it’s not dating the business – will your name carry you into the next decade and beyond?
Join and industry group. Business owners can get so bogged down in the day-to-day, they forget to look up. Networking is an effective and easy way to stay in touch with developments in your industry and the broader business community.
Watch for change in the basis of competition
These are dramatic shifts. For example, when smart phones entered the market it signalled a dramatic shift in the basis of competition for mobile phones. Similarly, when Netflix launched, it signalled a shift in the basis of competition – that is, delivery method – to the video business.
Listen to customer feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask customers what they want. Have a feedback function displayed prominently on your website and read it.
This information, though anecdotal, can be very valuable. If you have any regular customers that haven’t purchased recently – ask them why and ask for brutal honestly. This feedback can alert you to unmet needs and new opportunities.