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CEOs: Adapt Or Your Business Will Become Obsolete

There are many changes happening in our business lives today that often we don’t even realize are happening till one day it’s just a fact of life or how we do business. For this reason CEOs, presidents and business owners need to constantly be aware of how their company can adapt or risk having the business, over time, become obsolete.

Most people think that we are cutting our forests down to produce an endless assortment of paper and other products. In an effort to “think green” and in an eco-conscious manner we are constantly being educated on how important it is to recycle paper to save the forests.  And I agree, it is important to save the forests and recycle paper as well as other products. Every week our household contributes to the local recycling program. Many of the trees being cut down are being exported to other countries for multiple uses. Trees and native habitat are being lost as the population increases and communities build to meet the needs of a growing population.

But did you know that most paper is made out of trees specifically grown for the paper industry? Recently, I had an interesting conversation with someone who owns a 7,000 acre tree farm. It is for the specific purpose of planting trees with the intention of harvesting the trees for paper products.

The tree farm is on a five year cycle. Every year 20% of the trees are cut down to sell to paper mills. Once the trees are cut down the tree stumps are then ripped out of the ground and sold to make turpentine and other products. Then replanted to continue the rotation cycle

This lead me to think about how the world wide web impacts tree and paper production.  Because of the increasing online activity the tree farm business has changed significantly over the years.

Because of the internet paper production is down significantly. You don’t need a piece of paper or an envelope to send an email or even a phone text. You no longer have a need to order catalogs from your favorite retailers because it is all online now. If you request information from a company, the response these days is that it can be found on their website or sent to you as a PDF. Companies of all kinds now encourage you to pay your bills online rather than use an envelope and stamp (they even offer incentives for you to do so). We read books, magazines and newspapers on IPads and Kindles rather than delivered to our business or home address.

Because of these numerous changes the owner of the tree farm is now planting part of his property with a different species of tree that is used in tissue production such as Kleenex and bathroom toilet paper.

As a CEO, president or business owner you need to be constantly aware of the shifts, changes and trends happening in the world and within your industry. Otherwise, if your business doesn’t appropriately adapt there is the potential to become obsolete. It may not happen immediately, but in time, the possibility of going out of business will become very real.

There are many other examples of how needs for products and services can change almost virtually overnight in today’s business world.  Not so long ago when you purchased a shirt, for example, you’d find a tag on the back of the shirt with its brand name. These tags were manufactured by the millions. One of those niche businesses where just a few companies created all of the tags for garment makers. One day someone got the genius idea of printing the information on the back of the shirt thus reducing costs because they didn’t have to buy the tags – and making customers happy because the tagless shirt was more comfortable to wear. Overnight, the people who manufactured the tags saw their business evaporate. They had to change their business or go out of business.

Things can change fast in society – as well as in your business. It can sometimes change in a blink of an eye without you ever realizing it. Till one day, you wonder to yourself: How did this happen? Why didn’t I see this before? Or see this coming? Now what?!

In your particular business and industry, you need to be paying attention to the emerging trends so that you don’t find yourself in a position of waking up one day and discovering the parade has passed you and your company by.


Remember: Adapt or your business may be left behind and become obsolete. 


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