Ready to Play Leapfrog?
The coming year will be fun, adventure-filled and profitable for people who have their wits about them.
A number of small business owners are positioning themselves to overtake their much larger rivals.
Will one of these companies be yours?
Not many years ago, General Motors and Circuit City were the dominant players in their categories. Today they’re both on their knees, having made the same mistakes:
1. They took their fingers off the pulse of the customer.
When you believe your marketing pipeline will allow you to dictate what the customer will buy, you’re in danger of being leapfrogged. In 1960, General Motors sold nearly 60 percent of all new cars. Today, even though Chevrolet maintains 4,200 dealerships, Toyota sells more cars than all 5 GM brands combined through just 1,400 locations. LESSON: Having the right product is more important than heritage and convenience.
2. They quit taking risks.
When companies achieve success, they usually quit innovating and become guardians of the status quo. But yesterday’s perfect processes are obsolete tomorrow. Vinyl records were replaced by 8-track tapes. 8-tracks were replaced by cassettes. Cassettes were replaced by CDs. And now CD’s are being replaced by MP3 players. The same is happening with business practices. LESSON: Success, like failure, is a temporary condition. Never assume you've arrived.
The leaders are going into hunker-down mode. They’re cutting back their advertising, assuming that everyone else will cut back as well.
When a leapfrogger sees a leader’s brake lights, he hits the accelerator. Are you beginning to see what I meant when I said, “fun, adventure-filled and profitable?”
Here are the trends to watch in 2009:
1. Frivolous purchases are being delayed.
We’re wearing our clothes longer and keeping the cars we’ve got. We'll buy what we need, but only after asking whether we really need it.
2. We're buying fewer things, but better things.
More attention is being paid to quality. Only the poorest are choosing by price alone. Information is king. Details are power. This is good news for makers of better products.
3. “Sustainable” is a concept that will grow in power for at least 10 years.
The lifestyle of the 80's and 90's was “upwardly mobile” and its leaders were marked by “conspicuous consumption.” But the chosen lifestyle of the next generation will be “sustainable,” meaning that we'll strive to live within our means and embrace practices that are environmentally responsible.
Want to be a leapfrogger?
Become one of the Magnificent Seven.
I'll see you when you arrive on campus.
Roy H. Williams
On the Horizon:
How to Beat the Big Box Boys, Jan. 20-21
Dandridge and Wanek are awesome together.
Get your business plan refined for 2009.
Writing for Radio and the Internet, Feb 3-4
Maddock and Sexton, Yin and Yang.
Students rave about this course.
Join an American Small Business Peer Group
Corrine Taylor agreed to make a quick, rough draft video about Chapel Dulcinea's Journey of the Wise Men to be used as a guide for a trained spokesperson and camera crew. I saw the rough video, liked it, and decided not to use a professional spokesperson. (Don't tell Corrine you saw the video. She doesn't know we posted it.)
Be Warned: the side tunnel in today's rabbit hole is extensive. You could easily spend 12 to 15 minutes there.