It’s become increasingly apparent to me that the playbook for business owners has changed and no one really announced it. The landscape has changed, the formats have changed, the “rules” of marketing have changed. Forget the nonsense that you read in “the” expert magazines and on the blogs & podcasts. A new revolution in business is here. And it could be good for small business if we play our cards right.
A revolution is successful when the people charge the castle, so to speak, and take back their country and give it back to the people. However, most of these tales begin with the struggle of the people and end with their vindication, sometimes the untold story is that the people give the power to another leader who is corrupted with filthy riches, blinded by misperception and the process starts all over again.
Here in America, the old guard in business ie Macy’s, Sears and others are failing because of a revolution of the people and by the new businesses themselves that are taking their place. The people chose to buy elsewhere. The new business conglomerates are taking down the old guard of large fancy stores, big fancy displays and people that spray you with sticky perfume. They are replacing it with something completely new and we are accepting that change!`
At a Anthony Robbins seminar recently, he began to speak to us matter-of-factly about this. The biggest business in hospitality owns no real estate (Airbnb) and the biggest provider of transportation in the US owns no cars (Uber)! It gets more incredible as you go down the list. Amazon holds the largest proportion of internet sales at 33% and the closest competitor to them is Walmart (7.4%) who just improved their market share by .04% last quarter because they are seeing the writing on the wall. Sears, once the biggest stores in the world are now crumbling do to lack of vision and leadership losing $6 billion in sales since 2012. That’s billion with a B.
This is perhaps a bit of a relic in terms of examples, but Blockbuster was the king of rentals. Their company had the opportunity of a lifetime to buy Netflix for a paltry sum in the early 2000’s but declined to do it because leadership couldn’t see it’s worth. Think about that! Netflix’s revenue is 8.8 billion today, Blockbuster went bust 8 years after that fateful decision and Netflix with other companies are changing the way we watch TV.
The new giants of business are taking down the old guard one by one. How are they doing it?
Now all this ingenuity isn’t to say that it’s hurting small business because it is. There’s an incredible man that owns a shoe store by my Queens, NY music studio and one day I went in there to buy something. He had just made a huge expansion of his store and he was doing well because of the smart investments he made but also I could tell he was a good businessman. Anyway, I asked him how he was surviving Amazon which has a stranglehold on all retail. He stopped what he was doing, and I’ll never forget this, opened his arms wide as if shrugging and giving up at the same time. He then said, “they are killing small business.”
Since I love a good business back and forth, I asked “why??”
He said simply, “Nike puts out a line of sneakers. I buy them at cost and sell them for a smaller margin than I can afford now.” He pauses as if swallowing a bitter pill.
I say, “ok?”
The store owner looks at me and pleads, “Amazon buys those same sneakers at the same price I did, then sells them below cost.”
That exchange is an example of how innovation can hurt people. I get it, because one company has a stranglehold on an industry it disrupts everything, can put businesses out of business and sometimes ruin lives. This gentleman from the shoe store will survive if he continues to innovate his service to compete in the New Revolution. He won’t survive if he markets like he did 10 years ago, sells like he did 10 years ago and even how he pays his bills 10 years ago.
Be forward looking for your product or service. You won’t be able to survive the new revolution if you don’t adjust, measure, change and repeat.
Stand at the tower always.