The importance of change and the opportunities it brings

The Importance of ChangeToday dear reader, I’d like to explore the importance of change to a business and the opportunities it brings. For the fleet-footed entrepreneur, opportunity is synonymous with change. If that isn’t obvious, trust me, it’s true. And that’s why it’s important to embrace change.

1. Change is inevitable:

As the old saying goes, change is inevitable except from a vending machine.

We cannot avoid change, quite simply because it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. Trying to stop it is like trying to hold back the tide. It cannot be done. Change is simply a force of nature.

However, if you hate change, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Most people hate change.

Just when we think we have everything under control, a significant change happens and suddenly we’re scrambling to get ourselves back to equilibrium. It makes life seem like a giant game of Snakes and Ladders, doesn’t it?

2. Fear of change is natural:

Actually feeling uncomfortable when faced with change is both rational and natural because one of the most basic human needs is the need to feel secure. Change is an uncomfortable experience because it makes us feel insecure.

However, we must control any fear we have about it and we must have the courage to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we respond appropriately as the winds of change start blowing around us.

3. Businesses can be fragile:

Change can affect a business in many ways, given that plenty of things can change for a business over time.

For instance, consumers’ needs, wants and expectations will change over time. As will technology; markets; competition; and regulations as well. And of course, let’s not forget taxation. Governments are constantly tinkering with taxation, as their need for money increases.

Therefore business owners and executives must be on their guard constantly, anticipating change and how it might affect their business.

Whether you’re an owner, an executive or just an employee, if you’re involved with a business then you cannot afford to become too complacent.

Ignore change and it’ll kill your business quicker than you might imagine. It can kill your career too. Businesses can be fragile if they’re exposed suddenly to the harsh reality of change.

4. Change on an industrial scale:

It’s easy to think that major corporations which dominate whole industries are immune from the impact which change can bring. Unfortunately, this isn’t so.

Consider for instance the computer industry.

IBM was once the behemoth of that industry. The very name was synonymous with everything that was best in the information technology (IT) sector, globally. So glowing was their reputation that there was an old saying universally accepted in business, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.

They were Big Blue, second to no one.

However, their size and reputation didn’t stop them almost paying a very heavy price for failing to anticipate changing IT trends.

For years IBM favoured large centralised computer installations which filled whole buildings. And IBM didn’t see any reason to do anything differently as they were in the business of supplying these and making very good money from them.

Neither did they believe that many people would actually need computers. As recently as 1943 Thomas Watson, then Chairman of IBM said, “I think there’s a world market for maybe five computers.

However, IBM’s lack of foresight didn’t end there.

Having introduced what we now call the PC to the market in 1982, they didn’t actually believe it had any real future. Apparently their original forecast for global sales for the PC was just 25,000 units, worldwide.

IBM didn’t really want PCs to sell because they saw centralised corporate computer systems as where the real money was. Their failure to see the potential of the PC allowed Microsoft to move in and become a dominant player at IBM’s expense.

Failure to recognize changing trends and how they would affect the demand for computers and the way computers were going to be used had almost catastrophic consequences for IBM.

To be fair, they did manage to adapt eventually, but not before their business came dangerously close to collapse. And to this day they do not dominate their industry in the way they once did.

5. Heavyweights no more:

Another good example of a dominant industry player failing to recognise the winds of change was Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

If you’re not familiar with that name dear reader, they were the leading supplier of what were then known as mini-computers back in the late 1970s.

However it seems DEC allowed their dominant industry position to cloud their judgment because back in 1977 Ken Olson then President, Chairman and founder of DEC observed that, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.

Where is DEC now?

They’re nothing more than a footnote in the history of digital technology. Few people, other than old computer industry hands, will even remember the name.

And yet the demand for computer technology products is greater than it has ever been. Every household has several of them in the form of desktops, laptops and, in particular, tablets and smartphones.

Today the computer industry is dominated by companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google. None of these companies even existed when Mr Olson made his unfortunate comment back in 1977.

Another good example is Kodak, once the dominant player in the photographic products industry. As recently as 1976, Kodak commanded 90% of film sales and 85% of camera sales in the United States. Where are they now? Certainly, nothing like the company they once were, that’s for sure.

6. Change brings opportunity:

Set aside the fear of change and you’ll see that it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it actually generates opportunities for the fleet-footed. So there’s a positive dimension to change as well.

If it’s embraced then opportunities are always there for the taking.

Just think about it for a second. If change didn’t happen, we’d all still be living in caves and riding around on donkeys.

Most companies, particularly large corporations, are usually far too slow in responding to change. However, that offers plenty of scope for smaller, faster, more flexible businesses to move in and relieve the big boys of their lunch.

So change is actually a positive dynamic.

7. See change positively:

Let’s face it, if everything always remained the same then most of the things we enjoy and take for granted today wouldn’t exist.

In developed countries, we enjoy a standard of living that would have been beyond the imagination of people even a century ago. Think about that statement for a second; everything we now take for granted today once didn’t exist.

The point here is that we ignore change at our peril, particularly in business.

So it’s better to embrace change positively than to ignore it.

Yes, of course, it feels uncomfortable but we all get used to changes in the fullness of time.

If change is going to happen anyway then we might as well see what’s in it for us, surely?

If we’re in business, or indeed as people, we should always be constantly thinking about how we can exploit change to our advantage. How can we seize the opportunities that will come along as a natural consequence of change?

8. Make trends your friend:

In order to exploit change, we need to become trend-watchers. And not just single trends.

We need to be watching each and every trend that might have an impact on ourselves and our businesses.

And we need to consider how those trends might come together to create a perfect storm, the winds of which might do us harm or become the wind beneath our wings.

Whether the consequences are good or bad, we must always be ready for them.

9. Conclusion:

Successful people are adept at exploiting opportunities brought about by change.

Change is synonymous with opportunity, it’s that simple.

Never fear change, you must embrace it.

If success is your aim, then change can be your friend.

However, never underestimate the harm change can do, should you become too complacent.

Change can be a force for good but equally, it can be a dangerous force for the unwary.

When you think of change; think positively but think defensively too.

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