It wasn't long ago that my son, John - who happens to be in corporate finance - challenged my business model. At the time, I wasn't so sure that I knew what a business model was, let alone what ours was. Over a period of years, however, I have learned that whatever your business model is, it must of necessity fit the market you are in. And, if it doesn't, you have to change it. I call this the Law of Adaption, and this is the way it works.
1. The Law of Adaption says that if the shoe doesn't fit, then you had better try a different shoe. The point is, markets vary; there are geographical realities, demographic realities, and economic realities. If, for example, your business model is geared toward manufacturing, and manufacturing in your area has dwindled, then you had better look for something else to gear to.
2. The Law of Adaption says that it is not about what you want, it is about what your customer wants - and this is subject to change. That is, what is important to the customer today may not be the same as what is important to the customer tomorrow. And while some things never change, other things are always changing. A case in point is the current emphasis on environmentally friendly products and services. What was non-existent in the customer's mind ten years ago is now becoming predominant.
3. If changing customer wants and needs are not enough, changes in your customer's personnel compel your company to adapt. The Law of Adaption says you must adjust to the people within the organization you serve. The face of corporate America has changed dramatically in recent years. In some cases entire levels of management have been eliminated as a result of downsizing. In other companies seasoned personnel have been replaced with younger, less-expensive individuals. In each case it is imperative to keep track of changes, and quickly acclimate your firm to new people.
4. The Law of Adaption says that you must constantly assess your product and service offering, adjusting it where necessary and eliminating things if need be. I have seen this in my own industry. Whereas vinyl wall coverings were in great demand in the 80's and 90's, multicolor paints became the product of choice in the past decade. Now, however, it is slowly changing back. For us, this has meant a change in personnel and the skills required for employment at T. L. Hart, Inc.
5. Finally, the Law of Adaption says that a company must fit the dimensions of its market. In this case, if the shoe doesn't fit, then you had better try the other foot! Put another way, the market you are in determines the size of your company and the room it has to grow. A company located in a relatively small geographical region cannot look and act like one in a large metropolitan area if it wants to survive long. In other words a large company in a small market doesn't work unless it expands it scope.
I'm sure there is more, but the point is things are always changing, and if you and your business do not adapt to the changes, then chances are you'll succumb to the company that does