Roll with the Changes

In the same way that it wasn’t surprising to see Toys ‘R Us go out of business, it’s also not surprising to see that Blockbuster is down to one remaining location. Actually, that is surprising – I’m surprised they still have one location that can somehow turn a profit. While there were a number of things that lead to the end of Blockbuster (like their biggest profits coming from late fees), the biggest issue was that they never saw the online jump coming.

In 2000, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, approached the Blockbuster CEO at the time John Antioco, and pitched an idea that would bring Blockbuster into the space that Netflix was (online). Hastings was reportedly laughed out of the office. Fast forward to 2018: I still buy a DVD every now and then, but all the movies I watch are either through Netflix, Amazon Prime, or another source for online streaming. We’re still consuming movies but the manner in which we do so has changed – drastically. And quickly.

The same pitfalls are out there for any business. If a grocery store isn’t willing to update the lines of food and variety that their customers are demanding, they’ll quickly see those customers going to the places that will.

To make sure you avoid those pitfalls, look at your business and try to see what changes are coming. Ask your clients how they use your product or service and if there’s anything changing. As the business owner, we’re possibly so close to our product we may not see these changes coming until they’re on top of us. That’s not 100% a bad thing, but we do need to be sure to find ways to gather more input and feedback on our products and services.

Look back at how things were done in your company 5 years ago versus today. Changes like those that happened in the past will continue to happen – or they’ll be replaced by completely new changes. It’s been said that the only thing constant in this life is change. (That was said by Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus 500 years years before the birth of Christ – and it’s still true today.) You can take the changes from 5 years ago and double them to get an idea of what the next 2 or 3 years will hold. Change happens so rapidly now that what took the past 5 years to get done will now be done in 2 or 3 years.

I can still remember going to the Blockbuster a few blocks from my childhood home and renting my first movie – Ace Ventura 2. The building that held Blockbuster then now houses a Qdoba, a Smart Cow, and a Noodles & Company. If you want to keep your business relevant in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years, keep an eye out for oncoming changes and act upon them. Don’t let the Netflix of your industry catch up and surpass you overnight.