Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Failing forward

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     Nobody wants to fail. Nobody plans to fail. Failure is not an option with owners of a business.

     But failure can engulf you and your business. When this happens, recognize it for what it is. Step aside and learn from it.

     Example: Jose saw an opportunity. He established a Texas style barbeque restaurant. It was an immediate hit and customers flocked to the place. As months turned into years, Jose noticed a drop in customers. He looked around at the industry in general. What he saw was an increasing interest in farm-to-table operations and in healthy eating establishments. His own restaurant continued to decline in spite of his use of social media to promote barbeque. Jose came to the conclusion that his menu was out of step with the changing times. The marketplace had moved on, his customers were an aging group, and it was decision time. He could continue serving a declining segment of restaurant diners, which would likely fail in the long run, or he could reinvent himself. He took an unusual approach. He continued to offer the barbeque menu--to caterers in the area that served organizations and other gatherings. The restaurant was redesigned, including the menu, to appeal to currently fashionable diner interests in healthy eating and farm-to-table items. 

     Example: Susan is a yoga expert. She offers individual sessions as well as group gatherings. Her business was successful, but the competition was fierce. She was suddenly working twice as hard just to maintain the same level of business. She could see failure looming. She decided to catch the wave of interest in yoga by teaching others. Today, Susan's business is thriving. She concentrates on sessions designed to teach others. Her sessions attract people interested in setting up their own yoga studios. These sessions attract attendees from a wide area, and she is increasing attendance using social media. She also has set up several podcasts and instructional sessions through her website. Susan successfully reinvented her business by concentrating on a market segment she previously did not serve. 

     Example: Growing up, Alex cut lawns for neighbors. When he graduated from high school, he expanded his lawn-cutting business to include suburban businesses and organizations that had lawns needing maintenance. When several of his corporate clients decided to plow up the lawns and plant wild flowers, Alex was attentive to the marketplace. He now is a wild flower expert, and he has grown his business. He still maintains a few lawns, but one by one, they are dropping away.

     When you see failure looming ahead in your business, it is time to transition. Create a new business model. If all else fails, close the door and start again in a new business. 

     Failing forward means paying close attention to the ever-changing marketplace. You can surf many marketplace waves for a very long time. Others, not so much. Catch another wave before you crash into the rocks.