When I ask this question of clients, I usually get one of two answers: “my largest competitor” OR “the economy”. WRONG. So, what should be the biggest fear? What you don’t know!
Why? Most big shifts, the kind that put companies out of business or are transformative for an industry, are usually in blind spots. They come from companies that weren’t previously in our space or are using new business models, often driven by new technology.
- FedEx transformed how we ship packages and hit USPS hard. Not only did no one see it coming, the business plan was laughed at when submitted in a college course.
- Publishing companies are struggling with the advent of digital communication. Printed greeting cards, invitations, newspapers, magazines are all significantly challenged by digital access to information.
- Traditional religious denominations are threatened by declining members who are either becoming unchurched or flocking to non-denominational churches. This trend appears greatest with young people.
- Senior living care facilities are struggling to re-define their models based on changes in attitudes and needs of their customers (which include a commitment from seniors to retire on their terms and not live in an “old people’s home”). To date, the market is open, as there doesn’t appear to be a clear winner in a new model.
- Ebay and Craigslist are the new want ads.
- Apple now has the most popular cell phone, although they originally were in the computer industry, not the cell phone business.
- How about the impact that Netflix and Red Box had on Blockbuster?
Why don’t companies see these coming? And if they do, why aren’t they responding in a significant way? It is important to keep an eye on the horizon for trends and shifts that will impact your industry and always be willing to challenge the status quo.