Like everything around us today, success is also demanded in the form of 2 minute noodles. Achieving success, however, is often equated with remaining successful. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, for the latter requires a particularly different mindset. One needs to showcase persistence and foresight, be willing to adapt to change (and affect it as well) and most importantly, given the nature of businesses today, demonstrate a willingness to innovate.
To stay ahead of the curve, successful businesses have created disruptions in their fields of play through a host of innovative measures. A cursory glance at the current Fortune 500 list will showcase that only 12 percent of the companies that first made it to the list in 1955 still remain there whilst the others have either gone bankrupt, merged with another venture or, if still existing, are nowhere near the top 500.
So why is it that most success stories are so hard to replicate? Let us look at some of the reasons for this:
Turning a blind eye to competition
In 1996, ranked as the fourth most valuable brand in the US with 90 percent share of the camera film market, Kodak was the most recognizable camera brand in the world. 6 years later they filed for bankruptcy as digital cameras and smart phones took away their business. Failure to recognize where the competition is coming from and turning a blind eye towards it can be fatal. While companies at the top of their game constantly look for ways and means to stay there, their competitors aren’t exactly twiddling their thumbs. The motivation to dethrone the market leader is reason enough for someone to put not just their heart and soul into it, but also their money. A lot of money!
Failure to build on your past success
Michael Schumacher didn’t let up on his intensity simply because he became World Champion in 1994. In fact, he trained harder than before and ended up winning five titles in a row and seven in total. On the flip side, the Leicester football team which won the 2015-16 English Premier League barely managed to stay afloat last year. Getting to the top is one thing. Staying there is a completely different ball game. The truly great performers not only work hard to get to the top, but work harder to stay there.
If it worked for them, it can surely work for us
In 2015, Indian startups received $9 billion in funding, equivalent to the entire amount received in the 2010-14 period. It slowed to almost $4 billion in the subsequent year. One of the reasons for this was the market being flooded with identical products or service offerings and therefore, the relevant segment not being profitable anymore. It is said that mimicking is a form of flattery. That would hold true only for showbiz. Truth be told, believing that because it worked for others and it will also work for you is akin to ‘Hara-kiri’. Research indicates that 42 percent of startup failures are primarily due to the fact that there is no real or sustained market need for the product.
AdaptTM Be a Crocodile, not a Dinosaur
Crocodiles have been in existence on this planet since the time of the dinosaurs. How then did they survive while the dinosaurs didn’t? The answer lies in their ability to adapt. Crocodiles changed their methods and reinvented themselves at every stage. Dinosaurs could not and hence, they’re extinct. Successful businesses are constantly evolving and, in some cases, undergoing a complete makeover. History is replete with examples of companies being knocked off their pedestal after reaching the top. Free market access, friendlier policies and a more positive economic environment globally, have encouraged a more competitive eco system overall.
With every passing day, the digital revolution is also redefining success at every level. It is time for companies to wake up and smell the coffee, otherwise they await a fate similar to those Fortune 500 companies from the 50’s and 60’s which slipped out of the rankings; and this time, there will be no looking back for any of them.
(The views expressed in the article are author’s own and the author’s employer does not subscribe to the substance or veracity of the views expressed herein)