Imagine if Spirax and Tudor, makers of stationery and the manila folder had jumped on the technology train and developed a digital filing system when the world started heading in that direction. They could have been the originators of cloud sharing technologies as businesses went paperless. Instead we have WeTransfer, Hightail (previously YouSendIt) and Dropbox. ‘Adapting’ doesn’t just apply to progression in the digital age.
This is a theme that has come up again and again throughout history. Business, particularly small business must be ever changing and adapting to survive. Put simply, if you aren’t up to date your customers will find someone who is. Many businesses don’t seem to see this. They think that that if they divert off their chosen path that everything up until this point is a waste. They are scared of the pivot, when the pivot could be the thing that saves them. Or at the very least, make them more successful. This isn’t a new concept by any means – Robert Frost was all over it in 1916 with his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’.
The pivot happens when you realise that the ‘times are a-changin’, and a change in direction is crucial to survive and thrive. It’s a hard thing to do and requires a bit of bravery, but the rewards at the end are well worth it. You could compare it to a relationship – you have been with this person for a while, and then one day you realise that you are only still together because it’s comfortable. So what do you do? Stay with this person just because you’re comfortable? Even though all the passion, intrigue and joy is gone? No, you grit your teeth, break up with them and take the plunge into single-dom. Just because you are now going in a different direction doesn’t mean that the old relationship was a waste of time. You learned a lot and grew, and are now on a path to greater happiness. You wouldn’t be where you are now without that experience.
IYBI‘s previous incarnation was DPM, ‘Design and Production Management’. As the world moved further into the digital age where businesses cut print budgets as their own ‘pivot’ to survive the GFC, DPM faced it’s own fork in the road. So in 2012 we re-branded as If You Build It to better reflect the fact that we are now a digital design agency. The fact that the studio has changed direction does not mean that all the print was a waste but it has opened up a new world of opportunity and relationships. This is an event which can be seen everywhere – many of IYBI’s clients have executed the pivot with great results.
Do you think that Apple would be where they are today if they didn’t adapt? Steve Jobs is remembered and revered for his entrepreneurial spirit, his ability to adapt to the challenges he faced. For the years that Jobs was absent, Apple lost it’s way because it couldn’t alter itself to the changing market. If he hadn’t come back to the helm chances are Apple would have gone under.
So if you’re not getting the results that you want, maybe it’s worth having a look at what you’re doing and thinking outside the box – is there something that you could be doing differently? No matter how far out it seems, maybe it’s worth exploring. Go on, be brave.