No matter where you are in the maturation of your business, you have to believe that there is a very legitimate possibility that not only your business, but also your very industry is going to go away.
All you have to do is look at businesses that have been impacted by online technology:
- Record Stores
- Book Stores
- Music Stores
- Travel Agencies
- Insurance Agencies
- Post Office
Everyone of these businesses and industries have been impacted greatly by someone who disrupted their industry.
Look at this forecast from 2010:
Unfortunately, they didn’t have a plan for how to withstand the onslaught of the changes that affected them and, in most cases, it put them out of business.
What got them to where they were wasn’t going to get them where they needed to be.
And the same can happen to you.
If you turn a blind eye to this premise, you are likely to take half-hearted steps, if you take any at all, to prepare for the future.
What’s worse, those steps are very likely going to lead you down a well-trodden path that will get you average to poor results now that the world has changed so incredibly so in the last several year.
It’s time to get serious.
The good news is that you don’t need to take giant leaps and bounds to get you where you need to go in order to stay relevant in your industry.
Instead, you simply need to make small steps towards a new goal and apply the lessons you learned from taking each of those small, increasingly smarter steps.
Marshall Goldsmith shared in his book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, that when you are looking at a future where the income cannot be accurately predicted, traditional strategies like forecasting, planning analyzing and reanalyzing and then and playing “what if” scenarios and then making educated scenarios don’t really provide a lot of assistance.
You just don’t know what is going to happen and as a result, you need to acknowledge that is the case and seek alternatives.
More specifically, you need first optimize what you are doing and then, identify some complementary tools that will work well with, and amplify, the skills, talents and abilities that you already have.
You’re not looking for replacements, you’re looking for improvements.
Act. Learn. Build. Repeat.
When successful entrepreneurs are faced with an unknown future, then employ a strategy that lets them figure out a strategy, see what works and what doesn’t work and then decide if they want to (or can continue to afford to) keep moving forward in a specific direction.
This is where, the Act. Learn. Build. Repeat. model comes into play. When you are in a period of uncertainty, you should begin seeking to achieve your goal(s) by taking action in this way:
1. Take a small smart step forward. (What’s a smart step? It is the action you take based on the resources you have at hand, and it never involves more than you can afford to lose.)
2. Pause to see what they learned by doing so; and
3. Build that learning into what they do next.
4. Don’t repeat that which didn’t work and repeat what does.
This approach has worked for entrepreneurs - people who have started and run two or more successful companies - as well as other business owners others.
Here’s an example of what I mean: Let’s say you want to lose 30 pounds. You can think about losing the weight all you want, but thinking about it won’t solve the problem. And, if you don’t change your eating or exercise habits, your weight won’t change one once. Essentially, until you take action, nothing will change.
That said, what kind of action?
Most folks start off with a head of steam. They work out a plan. They might avoid carbs or follow which diet is most popular in the news. And, although they might get started out like a house of fire and even lose 30 pounds, there’s a 92% chance that they will probably fail.
For most, the high level of commitment and the long time frame are often too much for most of us.
Folks who use Act. Learn. Build. model approach solving the problem in an entirely different manner. They’d start by taking a small smart step (action) in the direction they want to go. It wouldn’t be crazy like eating a measly 500 calories per day or focus only on losing 30 pounds in a short period of time.
Instead, they would focus on losing a pound, or even a half a pound, per week. And, using that simple goal as the foundation for their upcoming weight-loss efforts, they’ll eat a little less and exercise a little more - baby steps if you will - over the next week.
At the end of that week, if they’ve lost a pound (or more, or less) then, they do the same thing the next week and use the same process.
However, if they fail, the would try to add something else or stop doing something else to see if they can affect some change.
And if that approach is successful, they’ve learned something from their own personal experience, not just the fad they were trying or the book they were reading.
So you build off your success and try it again the following week, with the approach of repeating it until you have achieved your goal.
It’s a series of baby steps. You have broken down a big problem - losing 30 pounds - (“How the into a series of small, smart actions: losing a pound a week for 30 weeks.
Sitting back and patting yourself on the back for your current successes is warranted anytime you do well. But standing still and not looking to progress will not only stop you in your tracks, but also it will let people run by you and take business from you.
You have to remember, what got you here won’t get you there.