I spend a large part of my days talking to small business across Sweden. Essentially what I offer them is the opportunity to get access to new buying leads and they pay us a yearly fee for that. The service in itself I think is good, and I work hard to ensure that all my suppliers get good leads that will help them to make more business.
However, I do also hear a fair chance of negative feedback. Primarily this is in the form that they feel that their industry is being “destroyed” by suppliers offering “ridiculously low prices”. Generally, these are old print houses that have seen their industry completely changed. They will say that they don’t want to engage with the internet and internet sales, and they seem to take the stance that they’ll try for as long as they can to live on their local markets – fleeing competition rather than facing it.
When I hear them telling me this I feel two things – one is frustration & the other is a slight sadness. Take printing as an example. What many printers seemingly haven’t realized is that their industry has been commoditized, as more and more people can produce their own materials less and less actual input on the part of the printer is needed. Most people just want to send a PDF and get back their prints as soon as possible and to as low cost as possible. The people who are complaining haven’t accepted this change. They are stuck in wishing that their old business model would survive, without trying to find new opportunities or challenges. My frustration might be obvious – and my sadness comes from that I know that the people who don’t adapt, who don’t accept that things have changed, well their businesses will eventually fail, and they will in that situation have an even harder to time to find their place.
So, what can you do when facing this? Well, a good start is to stop moaning and start accepting the change. Instead of seeing all the problems that new competition with new business models are bringing – start looking for new opportunities to transform your business in a completely different direction.
Sadly, this is a lesson that many people will never learn. I, for one, am happy that I get to learn from this and take the lessons of the unhappy printers or the unhappy web designers and know that for me the most important skill to learn is adaptability to change.