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Fighting to Hold onto Your Business Model is not a Business Model

on November 24, 2013

Come January, my business, Spark Media Solutions, will celebrate its seventh anniversary. Our services have evolved dramatically over that time. We’ve had no choice. If we didn’t stay out in front of the market, we’d be an also ran and out of business.

The need for businesses to adapt is due to the fact that information, production, and distribution of everything can no longer be contained via specific channels. People have choice and information on literally everything. The ability to keep people in the dark, or prevent them from accessing readily available technology, is no longer possible nor desirable.

Regardless, recent business history is littered with examples of industries trying to do just that. For example, the music and film industries tried to hold onto their model of distributing digital media in analog formats. They tried PR campaigns, legislation, and even police action against illegal file downloaders. They argued some levels of success, but ultimately they had to adapt.

Industry stalwarts are not the only ones to blame. We see hot young companies such as MySpace and Friendster that quickly skyrocket to success and they believed all they had to do was maintain their current trajectory. Problem is as much as we love anything, we eventually become bored. Nothing can stay fantastic forever.

I can’t think of a single example of a company that’s been threatened by new methods of accessing the same product, yet held onto their old model and won.

Stay ahead of consumer interests

I’m constantly thinking about how my business model is threatened by the endless influx of content production companies, many of which I believe try to marginalize the value of content production. If I was still only selling the same services I was 5+ years ago I’d no longer be in business. If I want to stay in business, I must adapt and change. I have no choice.

Hockey pro Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” This quote and many various versions of it has been echoed endlessly as the secret to winning in business. Problem is this metaphor assumes that business is tied to a single rink. It’s not. In today’s business world the puck could take off and fly away to another continent.

In reality, you have to be completely open to any possibility. One formula I rely on is self-experimentation. My business often develops content projects on ourselves first. We purposely take too long to build them, make mistakes, and then try them again. For every successful experiment we have a new product offering with examples to show. For each failure, we know what not to recommend to a client, and warn them from making the same mistake themselves.

Self-experimentation is only one way we try to stay ahead of consumer interests. I’m interested to know how you try to keep your business fresh, and not become a company that’s clawing to keep its model, but rather a company that’s creating a model others are trying to catch. Please let me and others know in the comments.


Creative Commons photo attribution to (2) and asylumgfx.

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