Farewell, Old Guard

There is a revolution in business today. The old way of doing things is passing into the dark mist of history. It used to be that you… created a product or service that was needed or desired, obtained sufficient financing, recruited a great team, cranked-up your marketing machine and eventually you could grow to become a leader in your industry. That is until some smarter competitor produced a superior performing widget, secured better financing, stole some of your people or out-marketed you, thereby knocking you off your high horse.

Not anymore! 

Don’t believe me? Consider this. Yesterday, Bill Ford, president of Ford Motor Company said: “The business model that sustained us for decades is no longer sufficient to maintain profitability.” Think about that for a minute. Here is the son of one of the “fathers of the industrial revolution” telling us that their business model no longer works! That’s kind of heavy. 

Product marketing, recruitment and financing are no longer the “sacred cows” of business success. 

Product Marketing
Just because a product or service is “better” in no way guarantees its success in the market. In fact our friend Seth Godin, author and marketing guru says in his book, The Purple Cow, “Very good products and services are very bad!” Why? Because while we are focusing on how marvelous our products have become, the market has changed and often so radically that your nifty little product has not only lost demand, it has quite likely become irrelevant! Marketers today must focus on creating the NEXT generation of products and services before their first generation ever hits the street. But often times we fall madly in love with our product line. This is a surefire approach to getting our clients to fall “out of love” with our company. Faster product and service turnover is a requirement of success in this blinding fast, whim sensitive culture.

Traditional Financing
While every enterprise must have some kind of basic financial foundation, today traditional financing is less important that ever before in history. Consider some of the recent start-ups that have grown into multi-million or billion dollar ventures with little or no traditional financing:

  • Skype started with less that $10,000 in capital and recently sold to E-bay for 2.6 billion.
  • Airborne Health with only18 employees, posted $150 million in sales for 4673% growth in the last 3 years.
  • Digital Lifestyle Outfitters, makers of i-pod accessories reached $84 million in sales after having been in business only 26 months!

All of these companies took risks. They were funded by immediate and astronomically growth not by a bunch of bankers with purse-strings and their greedy hands in every pie. I believe that self-funding ventures will become the standard for business growth in the future. Traditional financing and budgeting leads to waste. Like the old guard concept of, “it’s in the budget, then we need to spend it or they will cut the budget next year.” This is the kind of thinking that has created the 10 trillion dollar economic deficit that our generation faces.

Building a world class corporate team has always been the aim of every great company. Ford Motor Company, for years had one of the lowest employee turnovers in their industry. For decades loyal workers toiled for “mother company” in plants all over the Midwest. That is until the auto industry began to enter the world of collaboration and business alliances. Give a high five to the Japanese for this move. Today it would be difficult to count how many different automotive companies take part in the design and manufacturing of most Japanese automobiles. In fact many of those cars are designed and made in collaboration with competitors. That’s right competitors actually cooperating.

If this is so effective for the global auto maker why would it not work for small organizations like yours and mine? Because of FEAR! Many are afraid that their competitors will learn too much about us and use it to “beat us on the street.” Many are afraid that our best EMPLOYEES will learn too much and defect to the competition. How foolish. When you think about it. What was stopping them from doing that very thing in the first place? Nothing at all. 

I remember people laughing at me 3 years ago when I said on live radio that our corporate world is dying and that in less than a decade over 70% of the workforce will be free agents. This is now very obviously happening.

The watchwords of sustained growth in business today has been transformed from better product marketing, recruitment and financing to collaboration, risk-taking and blind fast product turnover.

Do you think your business can continue do things the same way that you have in the past? 

Bill Ford doesn’t think he can! 

I wonder, how will you? 

Have a great week!

Posted in Growth Strategies, Uncategorized.

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