Keeping it going

In business, one of the most difficult things to do is to keep the business going. Over the years, there have been so many companies that were really great for a season, but then just lost their way. They lost their competitive edge and more importantly, they lost their vision.

Let’s name a few recognizable companies that have either failed or almost failed. Blackberry, Edsel, Studebaker, Swissair, Woolworth’s, Sharper Image, Enron, Polaroid, Wang computers, Commodore computers, Kmart, Pan Am, Eastern Airlines, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, to name few.

In most every example above, the company had a good product and market niche, but they somehow lost sight of the overall company objective. In many cases, they just tried to be something they were not and in almost every case, the company leadership sat back and believed they had a product that didn’t need any updates and would remain successful in its present state. These companies either did not see the market changing or refused to accept that the market was changing.

Let’s also name a few companies that launched failed products but were able to rebound and survive. New Coke, Sony Betamax, Coors Spring Water (yep, the beer maker,) Apple Newton, Microsoft Zune (like an iPod,) and HP Touchpad, to name a few.

These companies launched a failed product, but they didn’t bet the future of the company on it. Take two opposite products views: Fritos and Chevrolet. Fritos is a product that tastes the same way as it did when it was invented in 1932. Chevrolet, on the other hand, doesn’t look or feel at all like it did when the brand was invented in 1911. In fact, it doesn’t even look like it did 5 years ago. The important thing is to know if you have a product that will stand the test of time or if you have a product that will continually change.

The point is that in business, everything you do may not be as successful as you envision it. The real issue is how to keep the company alive and move forward with its core business and core beliefs still intact. It all comes down to one incontrovertible truth: know what you are good at and keep improving in that area. It is ok to take side streets every now and then and to try new things, but it is important to always keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t lose sight of the business model or product that launched your company, and try the best you can to improve in that area frequently. Keep the vision of the company in first place, and with every new idea or change, always ask yourself if this decision will help or hurt the overall future and vision of the company. KT

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