The world is changing fast - to stay relevant and to keep performing – business owners now have to be more strategic, more responsive, more methodical, more networked and take risks.
Life as a successful businessman should be great. Nice house, fancy cars, exotic vacations, awards - you have it all. But will your dream continue?Chew On these Numbers
Studies suggest that 40-50% of large businesses around the world may not exist in the next 20-25 years. If you study the history of business groups in India, let’s say from the 1950s to now, the list of survivors appears interesting. In these 70-odd years, some establishments have grown (Tata, Bajaj, Mahindra, Godrej), some have professionalized beyond owner families (Dabur, Mahindra, L&T, ITC), and there are quite a few new entrants into the big league (Adani, Mittal, Vedanta, Sun Pharma).
Finally, there are those who are chugging along (Wadia), split, branched-off (Piramal, Birla, Raheja, Parle), or just faded (Ranbaxy, Thackersey, Kilachand, Ghia, Nirlon, Chowgule, Walchand, Khatau, Firodia). Some have lost out (Patni Computers/Infosys) in the race, entirely, and a few have got lucky too (Enfield)!What Does This Indicate?
If there is one lesson to be drawn from this evolution - it is that today’s business world has become more complex, highly competitive and has seen some fundamental shifts.
For instance, in the next 10-20 years, we perceive that ride-sharing, mass transit, and electric cars will fundamentally reshape the automobile industry and impact all players - car makers, component manufacturers, and fuelling stations.Changing Ecosystems, Everywhere
Earlier, cable TV was challenged by DTH, which was in turn challenged by videos on mobiles. Food delivery players challenged the business model of quick service delivery (QSD) outlets, such as Domino’s and McDonald's. Interestingly, all these shifts came about in less than a decade.
Even the largest and the strongest are left with little choice today but to actively court change for survival. This could be a change of business model, change of product line, change in leadership, or doing something radically different altogether.
A case in point is the diversification of Reliance Industries from oil and refineries to technology and communications. Tata group is globalizing with the acquisition of Jaguar. Marico (of Parachute hair oil fame) bought Beardo to appeal to men. Dell, Mi, Alibaba, Samsung, and Philips are all likewise changing strategies, entering new markets, and investing heavily in India.The Businessman's Dilemma
And if, this is the massive amount of change happening with big businesses, imagine what must be going on in the head of an SME businessman – how to ensure my survival, how well am I performing, how do I stay relevant?
But all is not lost. It is not necessary that only the biggest or the fastest will win - because if that were the case, dinosaurs would still be ruling the earth! Businesses that can adapt and take risk are the ones that are surviving the tide - nay, they are riding the tide.
Established businesses are getting challenged in every sector by smaller, newer, nimbler players - be it in building materials, auto components, engineering, medical diagnostics, electrical appliances, apparels, cosmetics, courier service, etc. Small and new is attracting funding and have top talent keen on jumping on to their bandwagon. This is becoming possible, as tools of productivity such as CRM and ERP are now easily available to smaller businesses as well.The Opportunity Ahead
The changing environment is not a threat – it is presenting more opportunities to entrepreneurs and businessmen. not just in “tech” but also in traditional businesses – Havells and Syska established themselves as Indian customers migrated to aesthetic electrical switches and LED bulbs. Firefox established leadership in trendy bicycles ultimately getting bought out by the giant, Hero Cycles.
The need of the hour is to create more options for the future. Unilever, Reliance, Infosys, Hero, RPG, and JSW – are all identifying new opportunities and investing in small businesses.
You could do the same. And, if you do not have the time, skills or resources in-house – partner with others.
The time to do that is now!