Don’t Stand Still…

Summer is drawing to a close.  As Mother Nature busily prepares for fall, there are days that we find ourselves driving in less than ideal weather conditions.  During a rainstorm the other day, as I made my way home from a business appointment, I noticed that my view out of the back window of my vehicle was less obscured than the view through the rain streaked windshield.  Looking back to that moment, a Warren Buffett quote comes to mind … “In the business world the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”

 On a roll with quotes pouring into my mind, I then came up with a William Knudson quote … “In business the competition will bite you if you keep running.  If you stand still they will swallow you.”  You and old Jonah!

Being a market researcher, I know exactly what they are talking about.  But, I found myself wondering if the business owners reading this blog understand what Knudson and Buffett were getting at.

As I see it, they are saying that when you accept the status quo in your business life, YOU ARE STANDING STILL (and getting wet).  Looking at it another way, when you stand still on a railroad track with an oncoming train coming at you, your chances for a long life are definitely diminished.  Discussions continue about whether walking in the rain gets you much more wet than if you run in it, but many seem to feel it does.   Bottom Line:  standing still gets you run over or at the least, very wet – just as it will with your business.  

But, don’t take my word, (or Knudson’or Buffett’s) for it.  Indulge me as I quote John J. Kilcullen, Chairman and CEO of IDG Books Worldwide, creator of the Dummies series of how-to books.  Here’s what he is quoted as saying to Anne Marie Borrego for the May 1, 2000 Inc. Magazine.  Pay attention now, because he obviously turned things around for himself by learning from the error of his non-market-research ways.  He said:   “The biggest mistake I made was not collecting relevant data about our customers in the early days.  Success in publishing evergreen best-sellers requires a careful balance of intuitive judgment and customer research.”  He went on to say “if we’d done prepublication research to sharpen our focus … If we had used our data more wisely during those years, we might have developed new products more efficiently and achieved more cost-effective and targeted direct marketing.”

This epiphany-like consideration for the benefits of market research helped Kilcullen sidestep the oncoming train and get safely back on track with a clear, defined vision while looking straight ahead toward a successful future.   Now it’s your turn if you want to recognize in your business the kind of success Kilcullen created in his.