Burying your head in the sand isn’t a great business strategy when it comes to dealing with tech-savvy competitors disrupting the status quo.
No matter what you do for a living, right now someone is out there dreaming up a way to do it better – most likely with the help of new technologies.
Industries which are stuck in their ways are often the ones blindsided by bold new ideas empowered by technological advances, whether it be newspapers misjudging the rise of the internet or taxi companies struggling with the arrival of Uber.
What will be the ‘Uber moment’ for your industry? If you don’t know it’s worth giving it some thought, even if potential rivals don’t seem like credible threats at this point in time.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the square and play Devil’s advocate.
When you think your business is too big to fail, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. If it was your job to put your business out of business, or to steal your most lucrative clients, how would you go about it?
If you wanted to win away your dissatisfied customers, what would you offer them?
The threat might not come from where you expect it – look at what Amazon did to bookshops, Netflix did to video rental stores and Apple did to the music industry.
Ask how you could leverage the efficiencies of new technology to offer a better product or service perhaps at a cheaper rate.
Fledgling Australia Post competitor Sendle might offer ideas on what your future threats might look like.
You might not like the answers to these questions, but at least you’ll have an idea of what you’re up against.
You can also start to plan for the future, perhaps envisioning a day when you start to cannibalise your business rather than lose customers to competitors.
A Kodak employee famously invented the digital camera and was ordered to keep it under wraps, lest it jeopardise Kodak’s film business. Letting this opportunity slip away, Kodak was eventually put out of business by the product that it tried to sweep under the carpet rather capitalise on.
Like Kodak, it’s possible that the next big thing in your industry is sitting right under your nose.
Are you open to new ideas, even if they mean changing your ways, or will you drive away in-house talent to found the startup that leads to your downfall?
If someone is going to disrupt your business model, perhaps it should be you rather than an unexpected rival.