The Second Coming of Business(1)


tony-AjahAt the end of last century, everybody was apprehensive of what the new millennium would hold. One word became a buzzword, and that was being ‘Y2K compliant’. Not few of us were talking about that because of the fear of the so called ‘millennium bug’. (I know that you can recall that, and was probably were compliant by one way or the other). I can still remember that the economical aspect of our lives was a major area people expressed considerable fear and anxiety.

It’s quite a decade ago, and a lot of things have drastically changed in our world, and particularly in the business world. The vicissitudes have come much rapidly at a terrifying rate than we thought possible with so much unpredictable happenings. The high rate of unemployment, the closing down of so many companies, the crashing down of the stock market, the merging and acquisition of companies, are all indication that it’s purely business unusual, and not forgetting also the emergence of dozens of technology enabled and internet-based businesses, and more.  We are yet to see the end of this ironic revolution that has begun.

Of course, no one could have imagined that the world would witness an economic holocaust, or even thought about it at the degree at which it came and has been sustained. More business surprises would still emerge in this new season. Quote me. But it would favour only those who are better prepared for the ‘surprises’.

I can then say that the year 2000 marked a new business dispensation, and ushered in the redefinition of so many business models and assumptions, until the advent of this recession. And this would herald the coming of a new style and way of ‘businessing’ like never before.

Several world events (usually disaster and recovering from such unfortunate incidents) have reshaped the events of the world. The other day it was the September 9/11 bombing of the Twin Towers in America, which by a closer look has changed ‘businessing’ across nations and continents. Times magazine of September 9, 2002 said about the incident, ‘It may someday be said that the 21st century began on September 11, 2001…’ I wouldn’t know how true they were, but there is an element of fact in that statement.

The stage is now set for a much more ‘reinvented-business’ life. So many methods of doing business like we have known them are gradually phasing out; it would be a sorry case for those who are still tied to ‘known customs’. The year 2011 is very strategic for the commencement of the next phase of business; somewhat like the evolution of the next stage of the ‘business life-cycle’. The current global crisis would change the business landscape. Remarkably, the change has started. We are going to have a more renewed economic system that would be fashioned to suit the demand of the times. More so, we are going to do almost everything new sometimes, as the occasion demands!

Towards the end of 2009, I took some time to search and study the business trends (and presumably in the next decade), and I was thrilled with amazement! There were so many feedbacks as there were so many business situations where they apply; although most of them were outside the shores of this country. We, however, should not take anything for granted in this globalised age, where what affects one nation has the tendency of affecting the whole world.

One thing was so obvious from my findings: the new era of business has just surfaced even beyond what the ordinary eyes and mind could perceive. And most of them have been born out of necessity that the current business experience brings. But how many of us could recognise this fundamental business eye-opener?

To be ahead of the game, you’ve got to be compliant, much more than you did at the break of this century. I want to break this piece of work down in the most practical ways so as to make it relevant to you and your trade. The big question now is, how do you position yourself to being one of the major players in the current business progression? ‘Life’, Wallace Stevens observed, ‘is the elimination of what is dead’. The same could also be said of every progressive business. And we are already seeing the need for it.

Business as we see it today is still in the process of becoming. We’ve come so far to go further, and must take bold steps and responsibility to getting there. How do we set this in motion? Alan Alda said something I like ‘Begin to challenge your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in’.

This business times would be preceded by so many changes that only those who understand and play by the rules would rule. Here are some of the things you should acquaint yourself with. Like Tzu Sun admonished, ‘We have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays’. So, let’s set things in motion then.

Align to the change

The time of crisis is often times for change. One language that would echo louder than any other is change! The business world, I want to say again has changed. This change shouldn’t be viewed as a threat but as an opportunity. In the words of Warren Bennis, ‘Change cannot be viewed as the enemy, for it is instead the source of organisational salvation. Only by changing themselves can organisations get back into the game and get to the heart of things. All organisations, especially those that are growing, walk a tightrope between stability and change, tradition and revision’.

At any time of change, only those who adapt to the demand of the times remain secure and also relevant. Like you already know, every aspect of our business life is constantly in the state of flux. This has become more obvious now than before.  So, we can’t stand within, and make progress without.

There is always a demand for change and progress. One of the reasons is because of possibilities that exist when we do or because of changes in the external world as we have met it today that asked for it. Please, don’t ever be forced to change but flow with the change and run your business. The later is usually advantageous.

Rapid and apparently crazy changes take place today in the business environment at a startling rate. Your business security lies in your ability to respond to those changes intelligently. If you would be sincere to yourself, you can still do more than you have done. And to do more than what you have done, you have to become more of who you are or even who you were not. Just be new!

You have to begin to form new business perspective; the present one is overdue for change. So much ‘busy-ness’, little ‘busi-ness’. There could be no better way of forcing you and me to change than by what we now witness. This is the best time to re-write them. (I have begun in my circle of influence. What about you?)

Another world of business opportunities is knocking on the door, or rather has pulled in. Remaining where you are, and doing things the way you’ve always done them may be very costly. Joel Barker, the author of the book Future Edge remarked, ‘When a paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero. Your past success means nothing.’ There is a paradigm shift in the business arena, and it’s still shifting. Without proper alignment you trail behind. I challenge you to do one important thing; be flexible in spirit, soul and body.

One of the primary keys to remaining in business is flexibility. Flexibility is a good business virtue. You have to be flexible enough to respond appropriately to whatsoever change that may come your way. To enable you to make the most of the emerging trend, you have to make necessary adjustments. This would certainly require your learning, unlearning, and relearning some business skills, wherever necessary. Do them so as to secure the future of your business. Businesses do not stand still; they may fall behind some times. But those that succeed do so by continuously improving their operations.

There may be so much to change, but begin by changing conventional business boundaries. As the saying goes; we grow only when we push ourselves beyond what we already know. I think it’s another time for us to grow in business, and grow fast for that matter. And for that to happen, change is inevitable. ‘Living with change’, a wise man observed, ‘need not imply insecurity, but rather developing new forms of security’.  I can’t wait to secure my business position. What about you?

For all I know, change means growth, and every growth comes with change. It’s so obvious then that adapting to the ever-changing present is the sure security for the unpredictable future.

Tony Ajah
Tony Ajah is a Business Growth Strategist, and the Principal Strategist, TA Strategic Solutions, a Lagos-based firm that provides strategic business development services for budding entrepreneurs. His ideas are highly sought after by leading Nigerian print media such as Punch Newspaper, Daily Sun, Effective Managers Series- Daily Independent, Financial Standard, Business Day, M2 weekly, BrandWork Nigeria, BrandCrunch, ReguLetter (an international journal), amongst others. Tony has written hundreds of business articles that have been shared on several media platforms around the world both online and off-line. He is also a seasoned idea strategist, trainer and professional speaker and his voice has been heard in numerous establishments across Nigeria and beyond. Tony has worked closely with some of the brightest minds in the industry. He is a member of several professional organisations within and outside the country, and also an alumnus on Federal University of Technology Owerri.

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