“Businessmen go down with their businesses because they like the old way so well they cannot bring themselves to change.” — Henry Ford
Ironically, Henry Ford lost hold on the automobile market due to his failure to adapt. The man who revolutionized the automobile and manufacturing industry, and gave the world its first mass-market vehicle, fell victim to the number one cause of failure: inability to evolve.
From big-box stores like Circuit City to Staples, those who refused to embrace the Digital Age also took a severe hit. Most of them lost a significant portion of their customer base to competitors who used the Internet effectively, and many others went out of business altogether. At this same time, Amazon was still a small company selling books online. But they were going all in on the latest technology and used it in every aspect of their business. It’s what made them the giant they are today.
At one point, half of the cars in the world were Fords. Ford’s Model T and assembly line were as much an industrial revolution as a business revolution, and a technological success by any measure. But as any business owner will tell you, success today does not guarantee success tomorrow. Even Ford, who revolutionized the manufacturing industry, was susceptible to prioritizing his gut-instinct over numerous warnings and insights from his team. He ignored the new technologies of his time and it cost him.
Failure to adopt is the failure to adapt.
Instinct + Insight
The small business technology is to today, what the assembly line was to yesterday. It’s a way to expedite work, save time, optimize the process, and grow sales to meet consumer needs. The assembly line allowed Henry Ford and his employees to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand in the same way technology allows you to take a closer, more hands-on approach to critical areas of your business. In both cases, the process allows the individuals to work on complex projects without losing sight of the big picture.
Day in and day out, small business owners make hundreds of decisions that require quick, nearly effortless thinking. They make many of these decisions based on gut instinct, and when that doesn’t cut it, a lot of elbow grease and grit.
Instinct is invaluable to a business owner. But even the gut is driven by observations and hundreds of data points. Instinct doesn’t just randomly tell you to grab an umbrella first thing in the morning. Observation drives instinct. Your instinct needs to know a number of things to give your gut the green light. It may be sunny now, but can your gut tell you what it will be like in a few hours? No. You need some insight. You need some data. You need a weather station who’s measuring the changes in the atmosphere and drops in temperature.
This is why insight is so crucial. It gives you facts to support the assumptions your gut is making. It pulls different trends, observations, and data points so your instinct can conclude that it will rain later.
Instinct and insight are both powerful in and of themselves, but until you pull them together, you’re guessing that it’s going to rain or reading information that tells you it’s going to rain. It’s what you do with the two that keep you dry and prepared for whatever comes.
Instinct tells you sales seem sluggish – Do something!
Insight (a.k.a. your data) tells you sales are always down right after the holiday, and you’re actually trending above last year at this same time – So, don’t sweat it or make a rash decision.
Instinct tells you that you need to bring in more new customers – Spend money on a marketing campaign.
Insight tells you that there’s an unmanaged negative review on your Facebook page that may be scaring customers away – Maybe do something about that before spending money.
Ford’s team provided plenty of insights that the company needed to adapt and evolve. They even created an improved version of the Model T, the Model A, but Ford ignored those insights and stuck with his gut. In an angry fit, he kicked in the windshield and collapsed the roof by stomping on it.
Ford had great instincts—much of the modern world of manufacturing and even the way we compartmentalize business activities stems from his instincts, but his own reluctance to trust insights over instincts severely damaged his company. In the end, he got it right. He leveraged the new information and technology, and to this day, Ford is one of the leading automotive companies in the world.
Insight without instinct is just information.
Instinct without insight is a shot in the dark.
Using them together is revolutionary—that’s intelligent business management.
Technology has changed everything for small businesses. With limited time and resources, adapting and adopting new technology is understandably intimidating. Learn how Womply makes it easy for you to boost your online business reputation, engage with your customers, and monitor the health of your business without demanding much time or effort on your part.
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