Be prepared. Be very, very prepared.
Andy Grove, the founder and past CEO of Intel passed away on March 21. Grove was arguably one of the brightest; most forward thinking executives of our time. A classic quote from his well-read book Only the Paranoid Survive states “success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
Interestingly, Intel, one of the tech icons has steamily lost its way. The company has begun the process to layoff 12,000 employees over the next year. Why? The current executive team did not demonstrate proactive self-recreation. With a focus on chips designed for PCs and Laptops, they are losing ground as the world goes mobile.
Let this story be a lesson for all business leaders regardless of size. We must continually focus on the customer’s continually changing wants, needs and desires. No customer, no business.
Aside from technology, one force or another is impacting every industry. Amazon and other online shopping sites are hammering big box and specialty retailers. Sports Authority, Sport Chalet, PacSun and numerous others are recent examples of liquidations and bankruptcies. ExxonMobil reported its worst earnings in years due to the dramatic decline in the price of crude. Uber and Lyft are negatively impacting the cab industry and car rental companies.
Yet, with every business cycle and change in consumer options new opportunities present. All leaders must be vigilant about embracing uncertainty and planning for change. As Einstein stated so many years ago, “to continue to do what has always been done and expect a different outcome is the definition of insanity.”
How then can business owners, CEOs and executive teams drive sanity into a highly volatile marketplace?
Be Crystal Clear on Your Core Competencies
Don’t try and boil the ocean. Know your niche and execute exceptionally well. There are too many options available. Consumers and professional buyers alike can find virtually any product or service desired with a few keystrokes. Be exceptional as what you deliver.
Engage Your Key Customers
Take no customer for granted. In fact, double down on deepening relationships with your key customers. Understand their current business goals, challenges and frustrations. Adamantly work to help them achieve their goals via your product or service.
Always Anticipate Another Apocalypse
There will perpetually be new entrepreneurs and competitive entrants into every industry. No executive or company is immune to being replaced. Those that thrive are those that stay humble and continually reinvent themselves and their firms.
Go take a look outside. What economic storm clouds do you see coming? More importantly, if your industry is currently “sunny,” take the time to plan. Be prepared. Be very, very prepared. It is only a matter of time before Katrina washes ashore.
Helping business owners, CEOs and their executive teams build amazing companies.
Core focus areas include:
Leadership Alignment and Accountability