Do you have the ability to think about tomorrow? I’m not referring to what you’re going to eat or what you’re going to do. I’m talking about what your business will look like and whether it will continue to be viable.
Let me tell you my story.
I went into the vending and food service business in 1976. At first, everything was going along great. In the late 80’s I started noticing a pattern. We had to add 10% in new business just to stay even. Between plants closing down and manufacturing companies moving we were losing 10% of year over year sales every year.
Eventually it got so bad that I realized that if I didn’t get out I would likely be facing a very dire situation in my company: A situation that could have forced me into bankruptcy. Because I was able to see what was coming down the pike, I was able to sell my business and get enough capital to give me a good start in a new industry.
I was able to see that my industry was falling apart. Over the three years after I sold my business 40% of the companies we serviced were no longer in business. They either moved their operations or reduced operations to a point where we would not have been able to service them properly.
What are the mega trends that your industry faces?
Is your industry declining, stable, or rising? Asking this question at least once a year is a really important one. Is there a technology that’s emerging that could put you out of business? If so, you either need a strategy to deal with this issue or find a way to remove yourself from your industry.
This is not a minor thing you might want to think about. Change is happening at an ever-quickening pace. You need to know what change means in your life and your business. This is a skill I think all business owners and especially you need to develop.
Can you think globally about things outside your sphere of interest?
There’s a good chance that an industry disruption is not going to come from your industry. There’s a good chance that it’s going to come from outside your particular business.
Think about Netflix. They’ve completely disrupted the way we consume video entertainment. They’re now the largest users of Amazon’s cloud service. In fact, in primetime, people watching entertainment on Netflix are consuming 40% of the bandwidth in the US. What does that mean for broadcast networks? If they don’t know they better figure it out.
Do you know any renaissance people?
I believe that knowing someone who is a renaissance person is a really important acquaintance to make. A renaissance person is able to think about and is interested in a wide variety of issues. Often it’s the renaissance people who can help you figure out what’s coming down the pike.
You’ve probably heard the term convergence. This is where different areas come together to create something brand new. Renaissance people often can see what convergence will mean. It’s how they see the world.
How to use the knowledge base of those around you.
I find that most of the time renaissance people are generalists in what they do. Their interests are wide and far. As a result they can help in a variety of areas. True renaissance people are also a little older. They’ve been around enough to see patterns that emerge and repeat themselves.
I believe that if you’re not a true generalist, you need to find someone who is. This person can help you think about your business and help you make the big decision. Do you grow it or sell it? I think this is the question you should always be asking yourself.
You don’t want to be late to the party when it’s time to leave. The results just might not be very pretty if you are.
We have a report that helps you understand if your business is ready to sell. If you don’t keep your business in a sale ready situation all of the time, you might not have time to get it there if your industry starts to fall apart. To find out where your business stands, click on the button below to fill in our survey.