Friday, May 16, 2014

Changing direction

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from someone who has been there, done that in several operations.

     Back at the beginning of the 1900s, automobiles were arriving on the scene. Vehicles were replacing wagons and buggies--and the horses that provided the power.

     The venerable Studebaker company had been making wagons for decades. Management decided to begin manufacturing automobiles. The company changed direction.

     Meanwhile, the marketplace adjusted to the lessened demand for horses. As time passed, there were fewer and fewer wagons and buggies--and fewer horses needed to pull them.

     Farmers who produced the grains eaten by the horses suddenly found themselves with a surplus of grain. What to do with the glut?

     The response of the marketplace was to change direction. Those grains that the horses once ate became the breakfast cereals that humans still eat today.

     There are valuable lessons to be learned from all this. When the marketplace changes, your business must change with it. You can change what you produce, like the Studebaker company. Or you can change how a product or service is perceived and purchased.

     Example: Food is on everyone's mind. Not only must we eat, but today the concern has moved to what we eat. A farmer can make a living growing and selling fresh produce in the local market--I know several who do. One of them is bringing to market a product new to his offerings. It's the flower buds produced in spring from last year's kale. It's fresh, it's kale, it's new--all the elements to excite the marketplace. Use them by throwing into an omelet--the same can be done with milkweed buds or day lily buds.

     Local farms are typically small businesses. They are in the ideal position to be on the leading edge of marketplace demands. You might not change horse feed into breakfast cereal, but lots of room exists for innovation in fresh foods.

     Questions? I retired when I turned 75. You can email me at with your questions. Put BLOG in the subject line so I don't delete. Quick answers from my 40+ years experience founding and growing small businesses. Your privacy is always respected. 


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