Are You Prepared to Survive a Major Shake-up in Your Industry?


Are You Prepared to Survive a Major Shake-up in Your Industry?

The pace of change has been dramatic over the last decade. Technological changes have seen many industries and businesses turned on their heads.

Some have handled it better than others. Kodak was smashed because they didn’t see what was coming. Sony should have had a massive head start in the digital music player space, but was left behind by Apple and the visionary Steve Jobs. And if you think things are going to slow down; think again.

Here are some issues that are going to further disrupt businesses and societies in the coming years:

  • We ain’t seen nothin’ yet when it comes to automation. The various estimations of how many people will lose their jobs to automation in the coming years are quite scary.
  • Computer power continues to increase exponentially, and genuine artificial intelligence isn’t too far away.
  • Self-driving vehicles will have huge ripple effects across all sorts of industries.

So, how do you prepare for such upheaval?

In the last five years we’ve seen the publishing industry go through massive change. We’ve had to move with the times and reinvent our business to survive (and thrive).

Based on this experience, here are 13 tips and questions to ask yourself, to help you successfully navigate fundamental changes in your industry:

1. See what’s coming.

You must keep up with what’s happening in your industry and more importantly, what it all means for your business. For example, a major change for us was the evolution of high-quality digital printing. But, it’s not enough to simply say, “This will make printing cheaper.”

What does that mean? High-quality printing is more accessible in lower quantities. Who does this help most? Smaller publishers and self-publishers. So, what does that mean for the direction of publishing?

You must keep asking questions until you reach the real impact on your business.

2. How will changes affect your existing clients?

Self-driving cars will help improve the mobility of older people, which will be great for some businesses. But the local mechanic is going to suffer.

3. Who will be your clients in a few years?

Five years ago, we were working with Random House, John Wiley & Sons, RMIT Publishing and Oxford University Press. Now we work almost exclusively with self-publishers.

4. How will the changes affect your pricing and marketing?

Will it mean you have to charge more (or can charge more)? Where are your customers today? Are they on social media? Do they search Google?

5. How will the changes affect your competitors?

Just like you, this new world will affect your competitors. Can they keep up? Can you fill a niche they can’t? Are they starting to do things differently?

6. What training, education or new skills do you and/or your team need to succeed in the new environment?

If you don’t stay up to date, you will be left behind.

7. How do you need to change your systems to keep up with the new environment?

Good systems are essential for business success, as is keeping them up to date.

8. What opportunities does the new environment present?

Industry disruption presents opportunities for the nimble and alert company. We’re much busier now than we were five years ago, and we’re working with numerous authors who were publishing with the major publishers just five years ago.

9. What threats does the new environment present?

Think about the new businesses we have seen creep into ‘old’ industries; Airbnb, Uber and Facebook.

10. Do you need new team members?

What skills are you missing that you will now need?

11. Don’t forget why you do, what you do.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when what you did yesterday with great success no longer seems to be working. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw everything out and start again. Your business can evolve while still maintaining that fundamental concept, idea or thing that set you apart from your competitors.

12. Talk to your clients to find out what they want in the new environment.

There’s no better source of information.

13. Don’t assume it won’t happen to you.

Kodak was destroyed by the digital photography revolution. And if you’d told me ten years ago Penguin and Random House would merge, I’d have laughed. It can happen to anybody.

Stay alert, stay in tune with your industry and your clients, and don’t be afraid to take the leap when you have to.

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