Dec. 9/16 2013; Volume 27/number 16
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Let me be the first to tell you (if you haven’t already heard it): The recession is over. I don’t know exactly what that means; jobs are still scarce and people are holding on to their money.
I don’t know if you should set Judy Garland’s rendition of “Happy Days are Here Again” as your ring tone just yet, but I don’t think we can use the “r word” as our excuse for not moving on.
As a business owner, it’s up to you to set the pace for your employees and have a ‘move ahead plan.’ Does it really matter whether the recession is or isn’t over?
What really matters is where your customers are and whether they’re buying from you or your competitors. What also matters is your plan to move forward. You can’t depend on the same old methods, even if they were successful in the past. They won’t get you through this one.
Many of the companies that exhibit these repeat behaviors are companies that have been successful. They believe that success still awaits them no matter what they do.
Unfortunately, they are wrong. You’ve probably heard the expression, “What got you here will not get you there.” It will be your ability to change, not your ability to cling to the past.
There have been so many changes in retail it hardly looks like it did five years ago. Consumer behavior has radically changed. They get information differently and are spending more time on their smartphones. It’s hard to sell customers when they won’t look at or talk to you.
I received a call from the vice president of a national supermarket chain. I was told he was going to call me but I wasn’t sure what he needed. I asked him how things were going even though I knew it wasn’t great.
“Let’s face it,” he said, “since we’ve always been leaders we thought we could wait out the recession and just cruise along. It was somewhat arrogant on our part but we figured none of our competitors would be making any bold moves in this economy. Little did we know, they didn’t care. They just came in with full guns blazing, leaving us in catch up mode. They blew us out of the water and, frankly, we’re embarrassed and not sure if we want to invest the millions it might take to get us back on top. We have to figure out how our old strategies look in the light!”
I speak to business owners every day and I admire the ones who say, “I don’t know much about this social media stuff, but I hear it’s where my customers are and I want to be there.”
I spoke with one business owner who said, “I’m afraid we won’t look like the same company.”
But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that some owners have the guts to look squarely at the issues and know it’s time to move on. I know that doesn’t sound that smart but neither does, “We’re waiting for them to change, not us.”
Change is never easy, but the more we know, the less we think we have to change. Instead of planning for the future, many business owners sat around waiting for their “payoffs.” Unfortunately, it never really came. In fact, many of those who sold their businesses had to scurry back and claim what was left.
A great book on this topic is What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. Remember, whatever you choose, what’s happening in the marketplace requires a new mindset. It’s too late to do it faster and better, so it’s time to do it different.