Could you imagine...
...Something as iconic as Google falling to the wayside? Not remotely, right? But the truth is, without doing this exercise at least every 90-days, we are all at risk of obsolescence.
Truthly, we have a tendency of assuming that once a company has worked it’s way into our everyday vocabulary that it’s pretty exempt from destruction.
But that’s exactly what happened with Kodak. In fact, the business world is filled with stories of giants who failed to keep up with the changes around them. Kodak being, arguably, one of the most famous examples of assuming you’re above the changes happening around you.
How do you go from being an everyday verb, to bankruptcy? By failing to watch & work with the market around you. What’s scary is that the market is changing faster and faster. While Kodak had 10+ years to try and prepare for the digital camera revolution, change doesn’t happen nearly that slowly anymore.
Social media shifts at least annually, and quite frankly, the shifts happen more on a monthly basis at this point. Sales has changed from ten years ago too. It’s no longer about slick tactics and the hard-sale. The consumer has become more educated and expects to be treated differently now.
Realistically, it's tough to make time to do this exercise every 90-days unless you are 80% focused on business owner activities. Since most of us sit inside a lot of business operator tasks, I'll give you permission to do this every 6-months. But that's as far out as you should push it! The moment you become reactive in the market-place instead of proactive, you are already losing the battle!
So sit yourself down and run through the following questions to evaluate your market-place, and related marketplaces to watch shifts as they are approaching.
- What has changed over the past 90-days in my marketplace or related marketplaces? (if you say 'nothing' - look again!')
- What marketplaces impact my market?
- What opportunities are present that we are not yet taking advantage of?
- What threats have appeared on the horizon that may or may not materialize? What could we do to prepare for these?
This is just a start, but don't be afraid to dig deep. For example, a company who provides clothing may need to consider how your local economy is being impacted by the shift towards a global economy and the feelings in the media and your customers towards how your clothing is sourced, what dyes and material you use & what it represents.
This requires you to get out of the day-to-day of your business.
Get out of your head.
Get around others in your field, travel the country & figure out how others are operating and what they are experiencing.
Personally, I complete a comprehensive, 21-question SWOT analysis every year and by the nature of the SWOT to focus on internal (Strengths & weaknesses), and external (opportunities & threats) it helps me stay aware of what’s going on.
How is your market shifting?
If you don’t keep up, you won’t stay open.