Business Strategy

Why your ‘comfortable’ small business is in danger

It is amazing to see so many new startups popping up in our community and across the country. Business is changing, and we’re watching it take a new shape every day.

Now, we have incubators, mentors, web-based businesses in basements and even nonprofits dedicated to helping entrepreneurs. The world is a different place. Brick-and-mortar isn’t the only way to start a new concept. As an entrepreneur myself, I’m honored to be a part of the changing landscape and grateful for all of the help I’ve received. But, startups aren’t the only businesses that need help. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and think about all of the major changes in the technology industry that have happened in just the last couple of years. Less than 20 years ago, though, we weren’t asking Google for recommendations. 

There are a lot of established companies that have grown their business in very different ways. There’s a lot than can be learned from hard-earned sales methods and good customer service.  Most 20-year-old companies could also learn more about technology and how the landscape of their business is changing. But why should they care?

I was born in the South where the word ‘comfortable’ was often used to describe business owners or wealthy families. Comfortable was the explanation for why they were able to drive luxury cars, live in large homes and generally live differently. The interesting bit is that everyone had a different definition of comfortable. Sometimes, it was if you could afford to own new cars or a house in a certain suburb. Sometimes, it was based on rumors (how much they made per year or how well their business was going). Regardless, it all came down to perception. Families began to rely on buying a new luxury car every year, sending their kids to private school, and growing their business through strong personal relationships. In most cases, these families where small business owners, sometimes generational owners, who were able to grow their business quickly. 

Now, entrepreneurs around the world are working tirelessly to automate every experience and process with technology. If you’re in a city without a car and need to get somewhere quickly in a comfortable car, pull out your phone and request an Uber. Uber completely changed the way we think of hailing a cab, and it’s affecting everyone – consumers and business. “But, that’s just a fluke. I’m not in the taxi business.”

It’s not a fluke and it does affect you.

I love technology and the conveniences it provides, but it also scares me. As a small business owner, minor changes in the market can have a big impact on my business. I work long hours to find creative ways to innovate for our clients, because the target is always moving – even if its only slightly. 

Birmingham, our small city, has a lot of financial service companies. Earlier this year, there was an excellent blog post on tech startups disrupting every element of the industry. Check out the infographic from that post below.

The blog, specifically, talked about Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. The banks that have the budget to afford major pivots and diversification. What about the “little guys”? They can be agile and move faster. They can use their loyal customers as focus groups for new products. But, one thing is for sure, they can’t stop innovating. 

Regardless of your industry, somebody is trying to change the way your industry works. If you aren’t innovating yourself, you’re going to start losing business. Already working on a project for your business or starting to thinking about it? Tell us about it. 

Read more in our series about disrupted industries. 

By Taylor Peake