Look Out!….the Window

27th February 2012


Business Growth


Busy, Busy, Busy, head down ploughing our way through our never ending list of actions.

How often do you pause to look out of the window?  I don’t mean to day-dream (although I am an advocate of taking time out to think), I mean how often do you take a look at what is going on in the world around you?

In my experience a lot of businesses have their heads down working and they are very introspective.  They compare their performance against internally set budgets, they compare their performance against how they did last year, they do not look out at the external market place enough to see whether they are taking the right steps to stay ahead and grow the business not only now but in 2, 3, 5 years time.

There are changes happening in apparently unrelated industries that could be affecting your industry in the future.  I will give you an example.  I recently helped a family friend set up a new Kindle ebook reader before she went on holiday.  I asked “are you a big fan of ebooks and technology?”  No she replied “I love reading when I go on holiday and bury my head in a book for 2 weeks and often ready 5 or 6 books…..” the next part of her reply made me stop and think  ” ….aircraft luggage limits mean that I can’t take as many books as I used to, whereas with this this Kindle thing I can take as many books as I want”.

This is an example of a change in an unrelated industry (airline) that is affecting the book publishing industries.  Of course that is only one factor that is seeing the shift from paper to digital media for books.

Take some time to look at the trends affecting your industry and related industries.  What are the technological, economic, environmental, sociological and political trends affecting your industry?  What are the changes in customer buying pattern? For example the increase use of online shopping, a shift from physical product to digital downloads, increased use of smart phones.  In the B2B market place customers are ordering later  (shorter lead times expected) and in smaller quantities.  Increased price competition and little differentiation in product or service.

Imagine that you are standing 2 years and 5 years in the future what is different in your market place, what are your customers demanding, what are the market leaders delivering?  Are you on track to be the market leader?

What is the danger of not doing this?  I have a one word reply to that “Kodak”.  Their whole industry was changed overnight and they didn’t respond to it and ended up in Chapter 12 bankruptcy.

So take a look at what is going on in the world around you and ensure your strategies are fit for purpose.


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