In my decades-old pursuit of a hobby I have built a library of old magazines going back many years. The other day I had reason to look up something I remembered reading years ago. Trying to find that article was like looking at a time capsule as I thumbed through 25-year-old issues. Yes, things have changed. Prices, of course, are higher today. Technology that is common now was not yet available then. Then something else struck me: the change in the population of vendors to this hobby.
Many companies that advertised then seem to have prospered with aggressive marketing and substantial additions to their offerings that keep them at the industry forefront, but the thing that struck me most was the number of companies that are no longer in business. Why?
I'm sure that some got bought out by larger, wealthier businesses, and some just closed shop when their owners retired or pursued other business interests. But in looking at the advertisements from companies no longer with us, it is evident that they were either offering "me too" products or actually had something unique but never developed a brand, never maximized their following, never expanded outside their niche and, when the competition caught up and passed them, just folded.
The basic lesson to be gained by looking at a time capsule is this: Aside from the normal "taking care of business" functions, a company must constantly innovate, constantly market aggressively, constantly satisfy their customers and constantly look to the future wants and needs of their customers, or the company will perish as others innovate and better satisfy customers.
Take a "time capsule" look at your industry. Look at the winners and losers. Determine why winners win and losers lose. Then look at your business. Are you a winning or losing? What changes do you have to create and implement to insure you will prosper in 25 years? Make those changes now!
Opinions expressed are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. For more information or to get his free report, "Tolerations driving you nuts? Eliminate them now!" contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (219) 464-9463.