To change. To innovate

In February 2017, I wrote a short article about change. Specifically, technological change and the rate to which it may take over the business landscape as we know it. The question I posed in the article was effectively will you be relevant in 10 years, or will you be replaced by a robot or an iPhone app?

We are now five years along that journey and I must say that while there has been great technological advancement in many businesses I work with, the rate of change hasn’t been nearly as fast as I had imagined back in 2017. So, where does that leave us?

Currently, the market is shifting. We are seeing a trend towards capital investment in small and medium businesses coming from private equity, sophisticated investors and large corporations. These investors are coming into this space looking at opportunities to increase efficiencies, productivity and scalability to ultimately improve profits. Astute investors often have a broader view of the market and are constantly looking for ways to improve whilst keeping pace with modern technology to benefit both their customers and employees. Small and medium size business owners will need to adopt technological change faster to remain relevant or alternatively, prepare their business for sale while the opportunities are available.

Whilst I previously focused on technology-based change, change can come in many ways and we should embrace it. We could replace the word change with innovate. We’ve often heard phrases such as ‘’innovate or die’’. Extreme sure, but the point is valid. It is vital for small and medium businesses to be open to and adopt change to stay relevant and competitive. If you aren’t moving forward and seeking new and improved ways to service your market, then someone else will. It might have even happened already.

Change can often be uncomfortable and something that people who love their comfort zone will resist, but does that mean we should stand still? I say we run towards it. Even if you are an industry leader, challenge the status quo at every opportunity to stay ahead of the pack. I often hear business owners say “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. It is important to move away from this fixed mindset and work towards being open to ideas. Finding new ways of engaging with employees so they remain invested in the business’ future and talking to customers about what their real needs are, will create new business opportunities.

Are you open to being challenged? Challenged from your team, your customers or your advisory board? What forums do you have to invite ideas or feedback? Who’s asking the questions that make you think? Allow yourself time and space to be creative and visualise a plan. Let’s not make this harder than it needs to be.

I’ll ask a new question five years on, with the same theme - What are you doing today to ensure that your business will be relevant in 10 years time?

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