The Challenges CEOs, Presidents And Business Owners Face Today

Listen to internet radio with Howard Lewinter on Blog Talk Radio

The fallout continues from the Great Recession.

Business Challenges CEOs, Presidents and Business Owners Face TodayJust this week, two CEOs announced major changes in the direction of their respective companies: Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry, and Best Buy.

RIM announced it will leave the consumer market as it cannot compete with Apple or any Android-based smartphones. The company plans to return to its roots servicing the corporate and government sectors.

BlackBerry is in the middle of a seismic shift within its company as executives leave, a new CEO takes over and its future in question including a possible sale of the company.

There there is Best Buy. The big box retailer is closing stores due to weak sales and competitors such as Amazon and Walmart right at their heels. Consumers have changed their shopping habits over recent years due to the economy and rise of living in a more mobile world. Consumers now take their smartphones with them when they shop for major purchases and cost compare for the best item price. Factors such as these, and others, are forcing Best Buy to rethink its big box strategy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

We’ve seen similar business scenarios already this year with Kodak declaring bankruptcy and Sears closing numerous stores. Gap is closing a number of stores too. Late this week, Groupon announced the company had to revise financial reports after executives realized they hadn’t set aside enough money for refunds, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For BlackBerry and Best Buy will it be enough to survive or is it just the beginning of the end? Time will tell. Expect more companies to emerge with similar announcements in this rapidly changing business world.

The way business use to be done is no longer. To survive, you, the CEO, president or business owner must be able to, in the words of John Mariotti, a guest on Talk Business With Howard radio this week: “Adopt it. Adapt it. Be Adept at it”. John explains what he means by this early on in the show.

Later in the show, John went on to say that the challenge for CEOs, presidents and business owners is to be able to, “See what’s possible… To know what customers you serve, to know what needs your company fulfills, to know what you have been successful at, to know how your company got that last big deal, to know what business you are in”.

To paraphrase, here’s leadership advice from John about business challenges to anyone running a company: Figure out what you are good at. What you like to do. Know what is most important and carry that with you as you go about your business day. John concludes the nearly 90 minute business discussion on leadership with a list of six points of what’s important to succeed in business, in politics and in life. You can listen to the audio reply located at the top of this blog post.

My take on this?

What CEOs, presidents and business owners – and even startup entrepreneurs – must watch for is allowing themselves or the company to get stuck in their own vision. Of not always looking over the horizon. Not looking at the competition.

Blackberry and Best Buy, for example, had to see it coming.

But did they really recognize the signs or the trends as they began to emerge? Or did they create an organizational structure that was just too big to respond? Tied up in red tape and over analyzing? Too difficult to turn around quickly to the changing marketplace?

In today’s business marketplace, to face business challenges, a company must be able to “adopt, adapt, and be adept” to succeed. Otherwise, companies like Walmart, Amazon, Google and Apple, for example, that do respond to the changing tide will rush in and take your business.

In business, it doesn’t take much to drain the sales away and to quickly become unprofitable. Any business has to constantly review business plans as well as sales and marketing plans to see if the vision is on target. If something has changed you must discuss how to keep up with the changes and the competition before desperation and illogic sweeps in.

Your company needs a proactive business plan to address various business challenges. You can’t afford to have your head in the sand.

In a fluid economy such as we are in any business model can get slammed overnight.

If you are a regular reader of my blog posts you already know that I ask the necessary, but hard, questions to CEOs, presidents and business owners that want to succeed and prosper. With what we are talking about today, the questions to ask yourself include:

– What would I do if the competition was taking my business?

– What would I do if I lost one or more of my key management people?

– What would I do if I lost my number one customer or even several of my largest customers?

As successful business people, we need to be positive. But we also need to be realistic and need to look at the negative and the what ifs. It’s like having liability insurance or house insurance for those what ifs in life.

So ask yourself:

Are you being proactive in protecting your business for the future?

Are you facing your company’s challenges head on rather than through rose colored glasses?

To be a successful CEO, president or business owner today means having the vision about your business. But it also means being realistic and having a vision about how to handle the potential business challenges of the future. Because the future marketplace is going to change. It may not be anything like what we envision it to be today.

BlackBerry and Best Buy are two business examples of companies that were slow to react. Many times companies realize they’re in trouble but only when it’s too late. They make business moves that won’t get them where they want to be – to remain on top of their marketplace.


Leaders lead. When your company begins to lose momentum you are in trouble. Stay of top of our business.

Be aware. Read. Pay attention to the competition. Listen to your customers. What do they want? You can’t sit in the office. Walmart checks thousands of prices at the competitors every week.

What are you doing to face today’s business challenges so you continue to be successful and profitable tomorrow?


PS: Take the time to listen to John Mariotti’s lessons in leadership on Talk Business With Howard radio (hosted on the Blog Talk Radio network). John also talks about his new book: Hope Is Not A Strategy: Leadership Lessons From The Obama Presidency. An interesting, worthwhile discussion for any CEO, president or business owner.


  • Gregory ODonnell

    Howard, unfortunately for RIM, they created a version of their product that frankly is very challenging to use, relative to the iPhone, having just changed from the curve by RIM I can say that Apple’s product is simple to use and does more than what you would expect. 

    I was reluctant to change but did, now the next round is a major downsizing of the company and this is going to be bad for staff in the various cities where RIM is located. 

    But they had a good run, maybe they will make, FORD did under Allan Mulally, maybe hope for RIM.