Bad Business or Bad Owner? I am often amazed when I meet some business owners who are in trouble how they missed the writing on the wall, the tea leaves, or refused to change when all the signs were apparent.
Let me tell you a story. About 21 years ago I was a General Manager of a logistics company in Boston. I was coming in from a flight from seeing my fiance now wife who was living in Atlanta. When I got through the baggage claim I went to the curb to catch a cab home. As I got into the cab, I said hello to the driver and started a conversation.
In the course of our introductions and small talk, I asked him how he became a cab driver. He proceeded to tell me “yeah I was a draftsman for 20 years before this…the computers and technology snuck up on me and eliminated my job”. (I wonder if UBER snuck up again?)
I was empathetic but could not help but be struck by the sheer insanity of hi statement. Years later when I was reading a book called THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE would I get a firmer understanding of human behavior. How we naturally gravitate to the normal and the comfort and resist change and how that very nuance is what possibly creates our crisis and destruction (a little figurative drama there).
One subtle part of the book references “The Parable of the Boiling Frog” :
If you place a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately try to scramble out. But if you place the frog in room temperature water, and don’t scare him, he’ll stay put. Now, if the pot sits on a heat source, and if you gradually turn up the temperature, something very interesting happens. As the temperature rises from 70 to 80 degrees F., the frog will do nothing. In fact, he will show every sign of enjoying himself. As the temperature gradually increases, the frog will become groggier and groggier, until he is unable to climb out of the pot. Though there is nothing restraining him, the frog will sit there and boil. Why? Because the frog’s internal apparatus for sensing threats to survival is geared to sudden changes in his environment, not to slow, gradual changes.
…Learning to see slow, gradual processes requires slowing down our frenetic pace and paying attention to the subtle as well as the dramatic.
It is human nature to want comfort to want safety. But there is a balance you need to adapt as the environment around you changes. Business is no different than any other component of life indeed now Business changes faster than ever before as we are witnessing with the Corona Virus Crisis. Right now business owners in hundreds of industries are now trying to adapt to the new normal.
Here is a case study: There is a friend of mine with a start up platform blending convenience, delivery, technology and the restaurant industry. The application and tech can work for many many industries but it starts with Food. The company is called Fleat. The team has been for the last several years pointing out the need for a better mouse trap of convenience and hot fresh food.
Posted by Michael Shea on Friday, April 3, 2020
Unlike other delivery solutions who pick up the food from the restaurant and deliver is 30 to 45 minutes later this would be made on-site in a truck fresh. Well getting restaurants to buy in on the need or the viability has been challenging until Corona hit. Now everyone wants to scramble to use the tech to survive and thrive. What changed? Well yes, the virus hit but in reality people’s mobility and drive for more convenience in their restaurant experience has been moving for years. The restaurants just didn’t see the change. Now the change has come and survival is on the line. Some will move too late to survive but those that saw it and adapted will thrive and grab market share.
Seeing the changes and committing to change is vital to small business survival. Another example of change is a former customer of mine and neighbor Pam Dublier. Pam some 16 years ago bought a corporate catering company called Vital Flair.
Obviously the virus impacted her business dramatically and just yesterday we were walking our dogs and crossed paths. I asked how she was doing and in the course of the conversation asked how I could help. She asked if I knew anyone at Amazon (I do actually a former boss of mines son is a VP there) and we also banged around some ideas on what we could do to deploy her Food Truck (she saw accurately the need for deployment of her brand locally and mobile) . With her permission we did some posts and now she has some home pre made meal orders and is doing a HOA community Food Truck event.
Now, this is not going to be a boom but it will keep the lights on till business returns to normal….We at Transworld are standing by and helping by making connections and pushing throughout social media. Part of our 8 step buying process is being thereafter closing…well we are here and we are helping.
Here is another example: A couple of weeks ago we did a closing. It happened to be near another client who had a pizza restaurant impacted by Corona. The restaurant is Bella Nona Pizzaria in Tavares and here is another way we adapted to leverage tech (social media) to help them grow awareness
The point is you always need to be changing and adapting. Because in the words of the immortal Ferris Bueller “Life Moves Pretty Fast”. Businesses are generally not bad, the owners and leaders in the business are bad becuase they do not adapt and change when they need to.