I’ve been seeing a lot of stories and reports of late about businesses complaining about going out of business due to changes in consumer behavior, business models and costs. Boo hoo.
Okay, I’m not talking about things the government does to change rules for business owners. The Man’s gonna do what The Man’s gonna do. I’m talking about the choices businesses follow that make them unable to keep up and adjust.
Survival of the fittest
I’m really tired to hearing about businesses thinking they have a right to stay open when they fail to change their own behavior or models. Running a business and making a profit isn’t easy, I know that, but just because you think you have a good idea or product doesn’t mean people will want it or buy it. And that’s okay.
Just because you’re a niche topic doesn’t give you the right to stay alive. If your content is valuable to people then you can make money from it. Whether or not that money is enough is up to you. Adjust.
I love watching old cartoons but the Boomerang channel is not part of the cable package I pay for. If I want it I have to pay extra. I choose not to because I don’t think the extra cost is worth it. If Boomerang went away tomorrow I would see that as unfortunate but obviously they didn’t have enough paying customers and at some point you just have to cut bale and move on to the next thing. That’s business.
Money for nothing
Another case of business survival that is busted relates to the recent hot topic of unpaid internships. There’s a small revolt underway to try and eliminate unpaid internships as it appears that many companies simply exploit the free labor. I don’t believe that all internships should be paid, there is value in just getting your name/work through the front door, but I also believe there is a limit on what you should ask and expect from such free labor. As with most things, there’s a balance. But I digress…
The argument against the free internships is that companies will go out of business if they had to pay all their interns. Really? So your business is so poorly run and organized that without free labor you’d go out of business? You know what, that’s fine. That’s okay. You clearly suck at managing your company and so you deserve to fail. Getting something for nothing is a great if you can do so fairly and respectfully but that’s rarely possible. Finding $50 on the street is getting something for nothing.
Failure is always an option
I don’t want to pretend that I know anything about running a business. I’ve never had to do it. I’m speaking as an observer and as someone that’s tired of hearing the same complaints over and over again, especially from bigger businesses. I think a lot of this falls into the bucket of everyone these days thinking they have some right to always win. Things have to be fair. That you can’t lose. Everyone wins, even when they lose. Too bad that’s all just wrong. There are losers and there are winners.
I’ve started many, many, teeny, tiny projects in my life and all but one of them have failed to this point. Sometimes that failure was my fault, sometimes it was due to external forces. Sure, I was sad and mad to see them go down in flames but that’s the way it goes. Try, try again. I clearly didn’t plan or execute well enough to stay afloat. None of my projects had an impact on my livelihood so the stakes were always low but that’s a decision I made about each one. I know that sometimes you have to put your neck out and take some risks but when those things fail just take your lumps and move along.