Not sure if it was their long-term strategy or not but with Amazon entering the bookstore business…. Amazon starts selling books, cheap. They destroy Borders, cripple Barnes & Noble, and eliminate the weaker of the independent stores (the strong ones are still very much around).
Then they start selling other items, create new (online) industries with companies like Zappos, diapers.com, etc., buy some of those companies, and have big retailers like Wal-Mart on the defensive.
Now Amazon is reported to be considering up to 400 brick and mortar stores to sell books, take returns, and be a safe pick-up place for online orders. Again, not sure if they planned it this way (probably not).
Now let’s jump across the world to the Middle East where the Saudis seem to have outsmarted a lot of smart people, at least for now. They kept pumping oil as prices declined causing great stress to Venezuela, Russia, and the fracking industry.
What’s the difference, besides size, between these huge operations and our businesses? It seems they quickly adapted to changing market conditions. Small businesses have the opportunity to be nimble but too often we get caught up in the day-to-day. Sometimes it’s necessary, the last week of January I got caught putting out a lot of fires (I prefer to start them).
Often it’s because we can’t let go. When it comes time to sell the business not letting go means more buyer scrutiny and often a lower price. Buyers like companies with no bottlenecks, especially when the bottleneck is a dependency on the owner and they’ll pay more for this type of business.
Ask yourself, “What am I doing that’s below my pay grade and someone else could do as well, or close to as well?” Then delegate that task and concentrate on strategy, like Amazon and the Saudis.
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Ambrose Bierce