To be old and wise, you must at first be young and stupid. This phrase might be applied to your younger self riding a motorbike with no safety helmet in an effort to impress, but can it be applied to business? Sure, as a younger company you might be naive enough to make risky investments or take a path less travelled and sometimes this works out perfectly. However, sometimes it does not.
In this case, older businesses might seem wiser, they might have more capital to protect themselves against that risky investment and they might have years of knowledge behind them to forge their way down that less travelled path. But, how often are established businesses doing anything other than stick to the road they already know? Where is the line that businesses cross over from established to the archaic?
Adapt and Change
As recently as this year, well-established companies have fallen under due, in part, to their inability to adapt and change with the times. In September of this year, British travel company Thomas Cook collapsed after more than 100 years of trading. As a well-established travel company, Thomas Cook was at the forefront of its market up until the point they stopped adapting. This is a prime example of how even well known and established businesses can crumble and become archaic. Older, in this case, was not wiser.
To maintain establishment, companies must adapt or else risk falling to newer businesses with bigger, better and more relevant ideas. This is the case in most companies unless they are the overall leaders in their market. Companies can be founded hundreds of years ago, and yet be the least successful in their fields due to unwillingness to learn from their mistakes. Weak companies such as this fall foul to newer companies all the time pushing them further and further down the food chain, as it were. Companies who are willing to learn, adapt and thrive in newer, and sometimes unfamiliar circumstances, are the ones that reach the top of the food chain and become successful.
Finding a Niche
Obviously not all established businesses become archaic. Many of them find their niche and become the leading company within that market. Take a company such as Leister Tools, a plastic welding company that has been manufacturing and trading since the late 1940s. For over 60 years, this business has been a huge part of the world of industrial goods and has established themselves as leaders in hot air technology. It understands the market and continues to thrive through years of obtained knowledge. In this case, older is wiser.
Is your business dragging its heels in regards to change? Are you denying yourself the opportunity of staying ahead of the curve by sticking to what was done in the past? Could combining the old and new ideas give your company the boost it needs? Older maybe wiser when it comes to riding motorbikes, but in regards to business, it’s time to look to the future not to the past.