If you’ve started a successful business, the journey is not over. To remain competitive and hopefully continue to grow, you must constantly improve your business. If you’re not consistently working to improve, change, and adapt, your business will inevitably decline. Competition is always growing stronger, customer tastes are changing rapidly, and the macroeconomic environment is always in flux. If you don’t change to adapt to these circumstances, your business will shrink and suffer.
- Competition is Strengthening
Competition is always improving and growing. If you’ve started a business and you’re in a lucrative industry, your competition will be constantly working, growing, and improving. New businesses will start and existing businesses will get better. Your competitors will likely be working full-time to improve their business to take market share from you. So, if you become complacent and don’t change and improve your business, the competition will slowly takeover. It’s a great idea to watch your competitors to see new ideas they’re putting into practice, and new products they’re releasing, etc. You want to always at least match and ideally exceed your competition’s efforts to improve. It’s common for a successful business to become stagnant out of laziness and comfort or fear of changing things and losing their current success. But these mindsets are a mistake – a successful business must continue to work hard as if it’s day 1, and they must repeatedly take calculated risks to change their products and services to improve. There is a small chance that they could make a change that damages their current position but there’s a greater chance their position will fade if they don’t make any changes at all.
- Customer Tastes Change
As business, technology, and general culture changes, so do customers’ tastes. Fashion is an extreme example of quickly changing customer taste but this is present in all industries and businesses to come degree. For example, imagine if Apple never improved or changed their iPhone and they were still offering the iPhone 1. If this were the case, Samsung and other competitors would have put Apple out of business by now. Since customers are always looking for the best product, service, or offering, you must always be improving to meet those heightened standards. Even something as simple as a new, updated logo can be helpful. An example of changing customer taste can be seen in my business, CRAVEBOX – we sell snack boxes online and customers are starting to prefer gourmet, specialty, private-label, and healthier snacks as opposed to common snacks and candy you can find in your local Walmart. I’ve adapted by finding smaller snack brands around the country and have begun sourcing from them to include more of their snack products in our snack boxes. This takes work and it’s a bit risky since you’re making changes to your current successful products, but if the changes aren’t made, the customer will go to a competitor who’s offering the new, upgraded products they want.
- Macroeconomic Environment
The larger global and national business environment is always changing. For example, right now in May 2022, inflation is at a 40-year high, there are labor shortages, supply chain difficulties, a slowing US economy, and a crashing stock market. If you don’t adapt your business to meet these external pressures, you will struggle to succeed. In your industry, the businesses that adapt the best will succeed and the businesses that can’t adapt will likely fail or shrink. To adapt, my business is in a strong financial position with no debt and plenty of cash, we’re paying our employees well to compete in a tight labor market, we’re continuing to release new products to grow in a slowing economy, and we’re creating relationships with new suppliers to improve the difficult supply chain environment. It’s difficult times like these that can strengthen your business if you respond properly. Difficulties are actually an opportunity because if you persist with solutions and a portion of your competition fails, when better times come in the future, you will be left with a stronger business and less competition.
About the Author
John Accardi is the founder and CEO of cravebox.com and starcoursecap.com. CRAVEBOX assembles care packages and gift baskets to be sold online. STARCOURSE CAPITAL is a venture capital firm that invests in young e-commerce companies. John dropped out of a PhD program at Georgetown University in 2014 to start CRAVEBOX and he says it’s the best decision he ever made.
He now runs the businesses out of North Wales, PA and also lives in Manhattan part-time. When John’s not working, he enjoys sailing, playing guitar, and spending time with family.