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Changing Businesses

I write about change quite often in this blog ... just a month ago I wrote about Technology Progress, the changes that can cause and the opportunities that come from that change.

It is a pet subject of mine, as a business owner and especially one in an industry that has undergone tremendous change ... and that change is not slowing down.

Think about some industries that have undergone significant change, what that has meant and what has been the result.

1. The music industry. Napster and sites like it were a huge threat to the music industry and have led to massive change there. Today, everyone I know has an iPod (talking about game changing technology) the sales of CDs has to be drastically reduced, the traditional players have either learned to play in this new environment or they are fast becoming extinct.

2. The manufacturing industry used to thrive in Canada, but over the last ten years we have seen most operations move offshore to "low cost" countries, an inevitable fact of the global economy. Goods wanting to compete on the world stage need to be price competitive, and they cannot do that with an expensive labour force. Companies in Canada have either adapted their business model to align with foreign partners, entered niche markets or become the interface to offshore solutions. There are obviously still some manufacturing companies left here, but what does their future look like (without government subsidies)?

3. The systems world. Again cheap offshore labour has changed the face of this industry, with all of the big players (IBM etal) employing large numbers of employees in these other countries. This allows them to produce quality solutions in a cost effective manner, but costs jobs in the "higher cost" countries. Just a fact.

4. The newspaper industry is an industry under siege, with online content readily available for nothing why are people going to buy newspapers? Obviously there is still a market, but greatly reduced and companies are having to tailor their content to meet the needs of their new customers. These changes have cost a lot of jobs too.

There are many other industries I could mention but the story is the same.

CHANGE is happening ... most likely to YOU and YOUR COMPANY.

The good news is that with change comes opportunity ... and THAT excites me! In a "flat world" we have access to markets we would never have dreamed possible before the internet era; we also have access to partners, technology and ideas in unprecedented ways.

Today a someone can create a phenomena that captures the world's imagination in a couple of years (Facebook); entrepreneurs in the African sub-continent can get access to funds through micro-loans from ordinary people around the world (Kiva); you can communicate (video conference) with friends, relatives, potential business partners in almost every nook and cranny around the world for next to nothing (Skype); we can get access to talent anywhere in the globe to help us solve our business problems wherever we might be; and every day people are innovating business ideas, products and services.

Sometimes we just hold too tight to the old ways of doing things ... and if we do that, we go the way of the buggy whip manufacturer. However I bet there were some of those buggy whip manufacturers who reinvented themselves, using their assets to develop businesses of the future!

Are you ready for the future ... or is it going to run you down?