What Should You Do With A Dying Industry: Run or Reinvent

Things change. The business owner knows that better than any one.  Change can alter the impact of your company. And if it’s not the kind of change that you’re looking for, it can kill your bottom line.  We change everyday.

businessman running away

Our favorite items may not be our favorites any more. When we change our mind, we alter our spending to match our new taste. It’s the same for your clients, they can change their minds and their spending habits.

Consequently, Industries Change

We’ve seen this before and we’ll keep seeing it. In the music industry instead of:

  1. walking into Tower Records (out of business now),
  2. sitting at their listening station (which I used to love by the way),
  3. and then buying the entire album just to get the 3 or 4 songs you really like.

We now download our favorites and leave the rest of the album in the digital store.  In the book industry, when we’re not downloading reading material the way we download songs, then we:

  1. conduct a quick search on Amazon or Barnes and Noble,
  2. pay for the item (typically with free shipping and a fraction of the cover price),
  3. and wait for our new purchase to arrive.

But that’s only for the ones who still love to hold their books — like me.  Recently, I walked into a local Wolfe Camera store. Excited, I was eyeing and investigating my next purchase. Feeling loyal to the company — mainly because of the former warranty program — I was determined to buy from them.

Instead, I discovered another industry in flux. Like Tower Records and Borders Book Store, Wolfe Camera is closing their stores (and a quick online search revealed that this may be old news — but I didn’t need a camera until I needed a camera).

Maybe it’s the cell phone industry that created a major shift for them. I did just use my phone as the impromptu photography equipment at a recent birthday party. And if you have a good eye, you can get some pretty good shots. And pretty good is good enough for the average amateur photographer.

But What About the Client Who Wants More? 

This is where reinvention comes into play.

Every change always creates some type of niche market. The question is will that market pay for what they want? And can you meet that need in a way that gets them to open their wallets to you?

The beauty about small business is our potential agility. Of course, a sluggish mindset can slow everything down. The key to change and making the most of it relies on 3 core small business decisions:

1) Pay Attention 

In this economy, you can’t open your doors, make your money and just coast. You have to watch out for the changing needs and desires of your market. Which means using what you sell and/or constantly communicating with the people who use what you sell.

Staying involved can cause you to organically discover your next move.

2) Pursue New Avenues

Yuki Noguchi in “Why Borders Failed While Barnes and Noble Survived,” highlights some differences in the two bookstore’s decisions.

Borders choose to expand the physical store and outsource digital sales to Amazon. While Barnes and Noble, reports Noguchi for NPR:

“Invested in beefing up its online sales. Eventually, it also developed its own e-reader, the Nook.”

As the industry continued to change, one was able to capitalize on that change and the other became a causality.

Finding the natural upgrades to your product or service can position you to win different by setting the curve instead of chasing it.

3) Push a Team

Ideas can come and go with very little impact, the same way highly talented people can have mediocre careers. The difference between success and failure is identifying a smart idea and focusing on it.

In large part your team will draw their passion and focus for the new project from you. If you’re half-hearted about the company upgrade, then don’t waste your time and money. Because wishy-washy leadership will constantly undermine team effort.

As the head goes, we go.

Because everything is in constant motion I am left with 2 constant questions:

  • What industry will change next?
  • What kind of opportunity will that create?

I Wonder 

As we become more health conscious, how will it change the fast food industry and pockets of the prescription drug industry?  And if the price of gas continues to dance around our wallets — feeling like a game to figure out just how much it takes before we park our cars — how will the gas and/or electrical industry adjust?

Change happens, and if smart change isn’t happening in your industry, how can you make relevant waves to help it along?

Fortunately, in business death isn’t automatic. The death of a business has a lot to do with:

  • Mindset — learning to ride the wave or just letting it swallow you up.
  • Focus — putting consistent effort in the smartest direction, given your circumstances.

Things change. Or better yet, why not change some things?

Running Businessman Photo via Shutterstock

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Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

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