Not too long ago, another retailer on a bulletin board I go to, asked the question (the kind of open-ended essay question that gets asked when nothing much is happening.) :
"What do you think is the most important characteristic of a successful business?"
The answers were many and varied, but none of them was the answer I came up with. An answer that was immediate and obvious, to me.
The ability to think for oneself.
The ability to look at all the available facts and come up with your own conclusions. The ability to go against the grain, if need be.
Every single product line, given enough time, will make a wrong turn. Like lemmings headed for a cliff, just about everyone in the industry falls into some delusion. If you can't move to the side, and think, everyone else is wrong, we're headed for a cliff, you will just be part of the herd.
Safe practices will protect you, to some extent. But even more effective is to avoid the damn cliff in the first place.
I realize this probably sounds arrogant. I'm right and everyone else is wrong. But that's not what it's about. It's about making decisions that are in your own best interest. It's about responding to your own instincts.
To me, it's never been all that difficult to realize that we're headed for a cliff. I used to think, "Wait a minute. Could I be wrong? How can it be so obvious to me, and yet almost no one else see it?"
Usually that doubt is something that builds and builds inside until it becomes a certainty. I don't react to the first moment of doubt, or the second, but there comes that moment when you have to take action based on your own instincts.
Sadly, knowing that an industry is headed for a cliff doesn't help you save your sales, but you can start to make plans, fall back positions, limit your risk. The sales will probably disappear, but if you aren't sitting on a pile of product or bills, or you have brought a different product in to take it's place, you'll survive.
It can be kind of lonely. Everyone is saying and doing one thing, while you are doing the opposite. I usually don't try to convince everyone else, because it doesn't do any good.
Several times, I've looked another store owner in the eye, and said: "You realize this product is going down." I've all but said to them, look out! Look for something else to sell! Instead, I just wait for a couple of years, and then....they're gone.
So, think for yourself. Beware of the herd.
6 days ago