Recently I read a popular business publication and there was a reference to a gentleman who owned a 44 year old bookstore and he was complaining about Amazon.com, and noting that his sales have been dropping each year for over a decade. He was bemoaning the fact that Amazon has lowered the prices of books beyond his ability to match them, and now they are locking up big authors and will exclusively offer their books in paper or digital formats, depending on the customer’s preference. He lamented: “They’re bullies. They really are. I think they really want to be a monopoly.”
Where has this guy been over the past 16 years? When Amazon opened up as an online book retailer in 1995, it only took you about 5 minutes on their website to realize this was a highly superior way to buy a book ( good prices, customer reviews, convenience of shopping any time of day or night, etc.). Sixteen years later he is realizing that Amazon want to be a giant player in books! Really! This guy is clearly the independent bookstore version of Borders!
What should we learn from this guy? Here are a few things:
1.) Do a great job carrying out you current responsibilities.
2.) Be super paranoid about the future, and search for new ideas that could make what you do and/or how you do it obsolete.
3.) Organize and staff to experiment with new approaches to enable you to be as successful in the future as you have been in the past.
Clearly back in 1996 or so, our guy described above should have done something like morph into an Internet café/coffee house or some kind of business with growth potential. Rather than being forward-thinking early on, he simply sat back and watched his bookstore decline.