Community, change and consistency: How to reach for the marketing future while respecting the present and past

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The AT&T building in Los Angeles. Do any of you remember the telegraph?

My personal retirement clock is ticking — and not because it needs to follow the deadline. “Retirement at 65” no longer is a requirement for most people, and for many, it isn’t possible, unless you want to live in poverty. But I’m going with that time-frame because specific milestone goals/events have motivational power and more importantly because I believe that it is better to plan and enjoy life transformations than have then forced on us.

Do you have your own deadlines and perspectives? And if you do, what can you learn about the intriguing mix of tradition and change that defines business viability. If business success is largely defined by its longevity, then how do you increase the probability that the business will continue to thrive and grow?

One observation helps frame these perspectives: The old stuff still works most of the time, as long as you recognize what needs to change, and you are ready to lead where change truly is necessary.

An architect or engineer would not, for example, do well in 2016 with conventional drafting tables and pen-and-ink drawings. However, I think that the basics of really successful business development and marketing haven’t changed that much in the past quarter century. You’ll still need to build on personal relationships, reputation, experience, and repeat and referral clients for most of your business.

Similarly business ownership changes and transitions follow certain patterns that haven’t changed much over the decades. Businesses that were based on the “name” of one person generally dissipate unless the founder develops and encourages employees and colleagues to rise to take on higher responsibilities. As a rule, if businesses don’t fail, they end up being sold, pass on through the next family generation or devolve to key employees or more rarely a significant group of employees in the employee-ownership model.

There is good news here if you wish to retain traditions, values, and relationships. All you need to do is to recognize the areas where change is vital — namely adapting to technologies, and preparing without fretting about succession plans. Once you take care of the basics, however, you’ll find that your community and traditional values go far in enabling your longer-range business survival.

 

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