The late, great John Harvey Jones – former chairman of ICI and business guru – had a business maxim which has stood the test of time. Change or die, he said.
Complacency is often at the root of business failure and history is littered with the corpses of once successful enterprises, both national and local, which failed to evolve and adapt.
The world changes and businesses which fail to do likewise risk being left behind.
Remember Pan Am, Betamax, Woolworths? Nearer home, older readers may remember Aberdeen’s once proud retailers, Isaac Benzies, Falconers and The Rubber Shop (definitely a change of name and product required there).
The core of any business offering is the substance and presentation of the product, whether goods or services.
Research and development will always demand the significant investment of manufacturing businesses.
Evolving new products and improving existing ones can go a long way to maintaining the success of the firms concerned.
But what of service providers? One of my firm’s basic business tenets has always been to find out what the client wants and needs and to deliver to a standard higher than the competition.
If you run a business, it is worth actually formalising an annual review procedure, possibly diarised for quieter times of year.
Challenge your managers to review the products and procedures for which they are responsible and suggest improvements.
Make it clear that to claim there is no better way is not acceptable.
It may well be that those members of your team engaged at the coal face may come up with fresh ideas.
Having established that the business has the right market offering is one thing. Almost as important is how that offering is to be presented to the client or customer.
This is where design becomes so important. The right packaging of the product – goods or services – and its presentation can make all the difference.
Much modern day business is done online and this demands the design specialisms of the experts in the field. This is no less true in the tangible world.
So constant attention to the product and presentation, laced with a good helping of creativity, should at least give the chance not only of survival but also success.
Aberdeen property market “recovering”
Aberdeen Solicitors Property Centre says the local homes market appears to be showing “slight signs” of improvement.
The north-east housing sector has been hit by the downturn in the oil business in the last few years.
But hopes are rising in many quarters that better days are on their way for the energy industry, which would give a welcome boost to the property market.
The third quarter of this year saw a 2.8% increase in the volume of sales, compared to the same period a year ago.
More than 1,300 properties were sold between July and September 2017.
So far, 2017 has been a better year overall than 2016, but the local housing market is still depressed and still at a low level of activity.
We are now well into the autumn market and this together with more favourable oil prices has resulted in some good recent activity, with an increase in the number of properties over £500,000 being sold compared with the last few years.
If the oil price can be sustained, I would expect this to be reflected in a stronger market next year with particular activity in spring – although I expect the recovery will be gradual rather than sudden.