Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The market we work in today is rapidly changing across all industries. We’re working against ultra-high inflation rates, an ongoing labor shortage and a nationwide supply chain crisis that backlogged operations for many companies. During turbulent times, strong and strategic leadership is a must to keep an organization afloat. To move in a forward-thinking direction during these moments of change, leaders must analyze their competitors, identify market disruptors and research industry trends to stay ahead of the curve.
Over the last 20 years as the Founder and CEO of a national multi-million-dollar franchise in the healthcare industry, I have witnessed periods of extensive change in the market landscape. More notably, because of Covid, we’re currently seeing a new wave of market shifts that companies must actively react and respond to. In this article, I will provide examples and a path forward to ensure your organization is set up for success amid a rapidly changing market.
How to position your brand to win
As markets evolve, determining the trends influencing your specific industry is the first step you should take to ensure your company is positioned to win. Based on these trends, analyze where the industry is heading and what this will mean for your organization’s future. We’re seeing businesses embrace technology like never before, digitize their processes and align with strategic partners to expand reach. These shifts often issue a new season of growth for companies that comply with consumer demands and align with the direction of where their specific industry is heading. Whatever the reason, to get ahead, be aware of these trends and create an action plan.
Another factor to consider is the danger of the status quo. No matter how large and successful your organization may be, it’s not immune to a changing environment. Adapting and adjusting to industry changes is a key indicator of a company’s future success. A cautionary tale of a business that failed to keep up with a changing market is Netflix‘s displacement of the Blockbuster franchise. Entertainment moved away from in-store disc rentals to at-home streaming, yet Blockbuster did not promptly read and respond to those changes until it was too late.
Watch the competition and recognize disruptors
While monitoring industry changes, keep a keen eye on the competition. Analyze how your competitors respond to real-time market shifts and how your response differs. Another essential key is recognizing disruptors. Disruptors are new companies or technologies that innovate outside your industry and significantly impact the market.
An organization that is notorious for disrupting the market is Amazon. We may think of Amazon as the big disruptor of ecommerce. However, when you take a closer look, Amazon is a highly sophisticated technology platform that adapts across industries — including healthcare, which is my specific industry. CVS is another excellent example. While it may be a retail giant, CVS also offers an array of integrated healthcare services via acquisitions and major corporate partnerships. After key trends have been determined, and you have your pulse on the competition and the industry’s many disruptors, your organization will need to develop a road map to prepare for what’s next.
Embrace a shared vision
Another crucial piece of the puzzle is ensuring all your key stakeholders are on board with your strategic plan for the company’s future. The goal should be to adapt to market changes while staying true to your brand values and mission. This means having tough but necessary conversations with your network to establish alignment.
My organization is currently implementing our strategic plan to adapt to advancements in the healthcare industry. Our brand’s purpose is to enrich the lives of our clients and families, and our brand vision is to expand our reach and the accessibility of home care. As a national franchise brand, we must work with our network of franchisees to ensure we share the same vision for the future. When we initially presented the plan, it was met with hesitation from some franchisees. We continue to hold one-on-one meetings and host network-wide town hall meetings to ensure our franchisees’ voices and ideas are heard.
Despite the adversity and opposition from some players, I have remained steadfast in our vision to uphold the best interests of our network with whatever means necessary to ensure consistency in delivery and quality, expand the addressable market so more seniors can access quality care and deliver on the opportunities ahead. I have received feedback from franchisees that change takes time to process and operationalize. Ultimately, many recognized the value in refocusing efforts to align with the external forces impacting our industry. Many also recognized the opportunity this change presents. Our strategic plan will inevitably drive revenue growth and profitability for the entire network.
A natural reaction to change is opposition. However, the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers,” which stands true as you think about your company’s future. There is the strength behind a network coming together to create change. But a clear path must be put in place so all partners and all parties involved can launch that shared vision to fruition.
The state of the market and knowing exactly where your industry is heading will often be volatile. However, keeping a close eye on market trends, disruptors and competitors and positioning your brand to remain in front of these changes will set your brand apart. Adhere to your organization’s brand mission during moments of change, and focus on areas of improvement to meet current and future industry demands. Be willing to be the leader who will take your organization where it needs to go, even if it may not be where stakeholders desire to go in the short term.