Special to the State Gazette
Perhaps Benjamin Franklin summarized a major business challenge best: "When you're finished changing, you're finished."
Change is constant. Today, the boldest execs on the front lines of business can easily relate to Franklin, the face of our $100 bill, and his sentiments on adaptability.
The reality of running a business, or advising those who do, is that the targets always move -- sometimes quickly, sometimes more subtly.
Long-lasting industry titans have shown that evolving and adapting in the face of changing competitive forces; economic shifts; legislative and regulatory realities; and the infusion of next-generation talent in the workforce are wise business decisions.
For example, think about where the following companies started in their core business product or service, and how high they've risen today: IBM (tabulation machines), Avon (traveling book sales), Sears (watch sales, then mail-order retail).
Of course, the list could go on. Newspapers have either adapted to online content consumption, or become obsolete. Telecommunications companies have seen (and sometimes led) massive shifts in consumer preferences and habits. Retail supercenters have consolidated where we spend our shopping time and gobbled up market share.
In the face of change, the North Star can be found in sound marketing and sales strategies. The best strategies have three elements in common:
* They are well researched, having scoured both marketplace and internal data for an accurate lay of the land.
* They prioritize no more than three growth-oriented objectives.
* They build in change management techniques with leadership buy-in to effectively bring employees and customers along in pursuit of the growth goal.
While number 3 can make or break the success of a sound strategy, not every business is prepared for the reality of the effort it will take to be successful.
Andrea Jung, the decade-plus chairwoman and CEO of Avon Products Inc. and the current head of Grameen America (itself a game-changer for entrepreneurs and small businesses), said: "If you feel like it's difficult to change, you'll probably have a harder time succeeding."
How can you know if your business is primed for success? Your answers to these six statements are a starting point to gauge how adaptable your company might -- or might not -- be:
Once we commit to a plan, we stay the course until the plan is complete, even if we're not seeing incremental success yet.
* We're open to trying new ideas, but there must be a strong incentive.
* We most often draw inspiration for our future from our company's past.
* We typically agree with the idea that you shouldn't fix anything that isn't broken.
* We know what works for our business.
* We encourage our employees to take intelligent risks that could benefit our business, even if that might mean making a mistake.
Change might be inevitable, but adaptability is a choice. In that mindset, take a moment today to think about your company's future. Are you thrilled -- or scared?
Catherine (Kitty) Taylor is the marketing director for RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. Connect with RedRover on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.