“Why can’t I just keep doing business the old way?” This is a question that I hear so often from business owners who fall in the “boomer” category – those born between 1946 and 1964.
The fact is, in certain, important ways, the old ways still work. Really? I know what you’re thinking but let me explain. The same skills that made you great before all the Facebook – Twitter craze, are often the same skills that will make you great at social media. For instance, if what you do for your customers in your business is positive – great product, great problem resolution, realizing the emotional aspect of interacting with your customers – then the word will only get out much faster and on a bigger scale using social media – an ingenious amplifier of the positive and the negative.
Since the invention of the internet, and more specific, the vast use of the Web beginning in the mid 1990’s, the context of our work has without a doubt changed as a result of the recent changes that are sweeping through the world of commerce. A dramatic transformation of the competitive landscape has occurred. The revolutionary changes brought on by these new communication and distributions channels are causing major disruptions likened to those of past revolutions.
Let’s take a look at one of the rapidly changing expectations brought on by mobile technology: Timeliness. What seemed fast to me last year moves at a snail’s pace to me now. Vendors like Amazon.com, and other factors have created a social media-induced restlessness!
To take a parallel look, let’s visit the period of the mid-nineteenth century where rural and village life was thrown into disarray because of technological advances. One of the biggest advances was the ability to preserve and transport food. This created a mass abandonment of farms throughout the region because now customers could purchase food from across the country or even around the world. Where the farmer could once count on a captive local market, he was now in direct competition with other farmers from around the globe.
Even today you can take a walk in the woods of New Hampshire or Vermont and see the striking transformation; old stone walls and foundations still exclaim the abandonment of farms and homesteads of this era.
I fear that the stuck-in-their-ways, boomer generation of business owners will never realize that times have changed. If their businesses are to survive, they must understand that they can’t afford to be similarly left behind by today’s revolutionary technologies, and that they can’t continue to conduct business the old way. Now that we are all playing on a global digitally connected field, it is crucial that they invest brain cells, time and money to keep up with what it takes to hold on to their customers!