This happens to the best of us, and it has happened to the biggest amongst us. From solo freelancers to Small & Medium Enterprises and from Large companies to really, really large companies – everyone is known to make this mistake.
They forget to identify their space.
The price so many have paid of being unable to do that is, sadly, huge. Railroad companies of the 1800’s failed to realize that they were in the transport industry, and not the ‘railroad business’ – had they known their space, they would have been the first ones to invest in air travel.
Had Britannica Encyclopedia realized they were in the ‘information organization’ business, they probably would have either come up with or invested in Google in a big way.
In Pakistan, had PTCL (the behemoth telecom company) known that they were not in ‘phones’ but in the communications landscape, they would have been the first ones to introduce cell phone technology, been the first to introduce ISP’s for access to the Net and would have been the first to figure out ways to battle the VoIP battles of today. Surely, all telecommunication companies around the world are waking up to this practically free way of making a phone call. Had it not been for bad governance, there would have been no ‘law’ that prohibits usage of VoIP to make international phone calls, for example. The industry has already changed, and now the companies are trying, with hook or crook, to stay afloat. They won’t stay afloat for long.
Same is for newspapers. The Internet has changed the game completely. Intelligent companies adjust and adapt and change, therefore they survive.
As an entrepreneur, it may or may not be your space to look into new ideas and start new businesses based on them. If you are not doing that and letting ideas (read: opportunities) go for the sake of ‘managing’ what you have started, you are not being honest with your title. It is your job to find the people, find the businessmen and employees, who would manage and run the business.
When trying to figure out and tweak your definition of the industry you operate in, it is important to realize that in the ever-changing world, it is highly likely that your service or product is constantly getting old. Adjusting your product to the market demands is one thing, coming up with a new product or service to maintain or improve your position in your own industry can immediately throw you on the top of the food chain.
Spending some time on identifying your space can be a good start but I’d suggest that you always be on the lookout to upgrade and update your definition of the space you operate in. Who are you? And why are you doing whatever you are doing? These questions must be asked, especially when there is change in the air. Do read this relevant post by Seth Godin on how to go about adapting to change in one’s industry/space. The ‘why test’ is not excellent to find motivation and focus on one’s life, but also in one’s enterprising activities.
Good luck and God bless,