Driving your business

The founder of Forbes Magazine B.C. Forbes said, “If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.”

This is true and it is inescapable. Just ask Kodak, Circuit City, Hudson Motors, Edsel Motor Company, BlackBerry, Motorola, Nokia, etc. All these companies rested on their past success and expected it to continue and did not see their market turning until it was too late.

The smartest business leaders I have known were all very focused on the details of their companies, their customers and the products they produced. In 1985 when you thought about buying a luxury automobile, you thought about Lincoln and Cadillac. They owned that market. Today when you think about buying a luxury automobile, Lincoln and Cadillac come to mind only after Lexus, Mercedes, BMW and Infinity. The two car companies just did not see their market changing in time to change with it.

Look at BlackBerry. In 2006 they owned 95% of the global smart phone market. Today they own less than 10% and falling because of a little invention called the iPhone. All the Blackberry execs had houses in Aspen, private jets and they thought no one could beat them in the marketplace. Well, they were wrong, just like Kodak thought people were going to continue buying film for cameras.

The point is to get personal with your customers and ask them how you are doing. You will be surprised at how open they are at giving you feedback. You will also learn some very valuable trends they as customers are seeing. Maybe if Kodak, Lincoln and BlackBerry had really gone to the street, got out of their offices and asked their customers for feedback, just maybe they could have gotten ahead of the curve before it was too late.

Driving your business means to meet with your customers and find out what you need to know. KT

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