Survival Of The Fittest? Don’t Let Your Business Go Extinct!

Running a business successfully is all about keeping up with the world as it changes around you. Society has changed more in the last 100 years than the entire 500 that proceeded it, and the pace of that evolution is unlikely to ease. Just take the last ten years; now poor social media etiquette can kill a brand off before it’s even begun. A decade ago, only the most strident had created a social media profile for their brand.

When you’re running trying to keep up, focused on the horizon, it’s easy to forget the things that rush by in your peripheral vision. They blur and shift, things you briefly acknowledge but rarely have the time to turn and focus on them. When you are focused on innovating, creating your product or selling your service, then the rest of the world tends to fade away.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut and have been wondering what you’ve missed, even the basics of business ownership have been changing as well. While you may keep up with the wider world on a personal level, filtering everything through the business lens is something we forget to do.

To fail to keep your eye on the little things that are changing is to risk the safety and securing of your business. Your customers are changing, habits are changing – and you have to adapt with them. Focusing inwardly on providing the best service or product you can is one thing, but there’s so much more you have to consider.

  1. Crime Is Evolving, Not Ceasing To Exist

Statistically, crime figures are falling and have been for some time. This should be a reassurance, but the things that are measured tend to be more old-fashioned and analogue crimes like burglaries. Of course it’s good that these are down, but you have to look at the reason why. It’s something law enforcement don’t want to trumpet, but crime has changed – it hasn’t vanished. Humanity has not suddenly developed a conscience; it’s just taken it online.

There are now a huge raft of digital crimes you have to be concerned about; crimes that didn’t exist 20 years ago. There’s no need to break into a bank vault when you can steal passwords and hack banking data. Some of the world’s biggest firms have fallen victim to data breaches, including Sony and Yahoo. Just because your business is smaller doesn’t mean it isn’t vulnerable.

It’s important to still look at the old-fashioned methods of security. If you have premises you need surveillance. Check out video cameras at Security Camera King and similar, use locks and an alarm system you can rely on. Then you have to take that attitude to constant vigilance online.

  1. Customers Expect Different Things

As a society, we are more cautious than we used to be. Scams have always existed, right back to the fake snake oil salesmen of centuries past. The current society is not more fraudulent; we just have the luxury of being more aware of it. If someone was scammed a century ago, they couldn’t quickly warn the entire country of the problem. Now we can, and overall, that’s a good thing.

It does, however, mean you have to be ready to meet customers growing expectations. You can’t be lax on the customer service front anymore, because word will spread like wildfire. People are seven times as likely to report a negative experience than a positive one – and some studies have the figures even higher than that.

Online review systems are something you can’t afford to ignore. You also can’t just disable them; a lack of reviews is enough to make a potential customer feel uncomfortable. You have to let the reviews come and rectify any errors that you identify, balancing them out with positives and showing an awareness to learn.

Make sure that your website is secure, you social media presence healthy and your response time to customers faster than it has ever been. These are basic expectations for the current customer, and falling down on one of them could lose a sale. If you have never really focused on the internet aspects of your business, that’s something you need to change. Right now.

  1. You Have To Have Something Relevant to Offer

It has always happened and it will always happen. Business concepts, products and services that we once considered essential fall out of favour and are replaced. In the Roman era, you could earn a decent wage selling human urine. The Roman entrepreneurs probably assumed they had a future-proof business, but things change. We found other ways to soften leather and an established part of society vanished forever.

There is no way of knowing if your business is truly future-proof. Checkout staff at grocery stores once seemed part of the fabric of society; now machines are doing their job. All you can do is try and diversify, and spot current trends while they are still coming rather than racing to keep up. Keep an eye on consumer habits. One such example is failing to take card payments; this is now expected, any refusing to adapt is going to lead to extinction. Even tradesmen – the beacons of cash-in-hand – now carry card processing machines to meet the demand.

If you sense that your industry is under threat, don’t freeze and just hope to eke out a living for long enough. Look at how you can make changes to keep up. Say for example you offer printing services for banners; there’s still a need for that, so your core business doesn’t need to change. However, if you add another string to your bow by offering digital design services – ever in demand – then you keep your customer base. Find something related in your current niche and update it, expanding your knowledge where required.

So is it all doom and gloom?

Of course not. For as long as society exists, there will be business people looking to service their needs. You just want to make sure you get swept along in the new wave of evolution, lest end up part of a historical footnote.

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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.