The lifespan of companies is shortening. In 1958, the average publicly traded company could expect to stay on the DOW Jones list for 61 years; now it is just 18 years. Yet according to the Census, 60% of businesses are ten years old or older meaning they are more than halfway through their “life-cycle”. For many businesses, they have reached the point in their growth cycle that can be referred to as “mid-life” crisis, a term that many Baby Boomer leaders can relate to.
How do you know for sure you are in a “mid-life” crisis?
The good news is that just like in life, the company can hit that stage, make some adjustments and keep on going happily for many years. The key is that the needed changes can’t be put off. The great recession of 2008, combined with rapidly changing technology, continues to accelerate the rate of change in the market and thus the need to adapt how we run our businesses.
What needs to change?
The overarching business strategy must be updated to reflect current market conditions and operational capabilities in the market. That requires every business to address two critical questions:
- Where in the market does the company play? Which customers do you serve?
- How will you “win” the business of those select customers?
Foundational to the above questions are the assumptions that:
- Not all customers are created equal. Some are more profitable to do business with, easier to grow with and, given the companies strengths, a better strategic fit. Those are the customers to target.
If your organization can effectively answer the two key strategic questions with as much specificity as possible, it can slide right on by the “mid-life” crisis and take the growth curve to a new plateau.