Will they need my business in 20 years?
I remember when I first started in business with my father in 1988. One day, after hearing about the fancy new office stores coming to town, I asked him, "Do you think they will need office equipment dealers 20 years from now?"
I was concerned. The market was changing dramatically, not only in the products and services businesses needed/wanted, but also in the way people accessed and consumed them.
Typewriters had been replaced by word processors and personal computers were beginning to be more commonplace. Calculators were becoming a disposable commodity. Some of the things we had done over the years had already vanished.
So we did what we have done for decades before I asked that question. We helped our clients procure and implement the modern technologies that allowed their businesses to do what they do. We didn't really change. The technology we offered and supported for our clients changed.
I learned that we have to stay on top of what is happening in business to help our clients in the best way possible. I became a student of business technology. What is helping small business be successful? How should they procure and consume it?
I believe that anytime you see a business that has been consistently successful for decades, you are looking at an organization that is striving to help its clients in the most effective ways available. Presenting quality solutions, assisting in successful implementation and then supporting them. It doesn't just happen. It is an intentional effort.
Be intentional about your business model. There you will find your future.
Dad did answer my question in his stoic, cryptic way that often took me years to decipher. "Well, son, if it makes you feel any better, 20 years ago I was sitting here asking myself the same question." I think I am still working on interpreting his answer 32 years later.