Despite my concern for ethical and social issues in previous posts, and in my academic lectures, never assume I am anti-business. Like anything, business can be a force for not-so-good as much as for good. However, business, when at its finest, creates value for society, improves lives, extends human horizons and, yes, paves the road to the future.
Plus, many of my best friends are businesspeople …
But let me say this clearly to my friends in business: The status quo is NOT your friend.
The rate of change in our business, tech, and social environment is too fast. And the barriers to entry in most industries are too low. That great new venture you got funded, that innovative new business model you invented, that great new product you just launched — they all hit the world with virtually no shelf life. At the moment of launch, someone already has something better in the works, someone else gets busy copying what you did, someone else entirely begins working furiously on making you obsolete.
Today, I still see so much energy put into maintaining various aspects of the status quo in business, especially business models and product offerings. We believe we are smarter or bigger or more experienced than everyone else. We believe we can leverage our experience and initial momentum in the market. We believe that if we just landed a few more big fish customers or built a few more headline-making strategic partnerships, we can extend the present into the future. We believe we can win in the game we know, if only it can stay the game we know.
And it will work. For a while.
But your success today can feed your failure tomorrow. The clock is ticking — your ideas are aging, your model is aging and the future is out there in those little pockets of competition, lining up to knock you off your mountain.
The status quo is not your friend. It will betray you, and it will diminish the great contribution you have the ability to make to our world as a business and/or businessperson.
So don’t stop innovating. Don’t stop learning and growing. Be the one that undermines your business model with the next big thing. Develop the product that makes your own product obsolete.
It’s your only hope.