Typically, businesses owners and their management teams, especially at small businesses (once known as mom-and-pops), are so invested in the day-to-day operations of “keeping the doors open and the lights on” that they have little or no time to strategically plan for the future.
But even the biggest of companies with well-planned strategies can go the way of the dodo in the blink of an eye over a paradigm shift within or from outside its industry.
As a baby boomer, I first listened to 78-rpm (revolutions per minute) recordings of Broadway musicals on my mother’s stereo hi-fi (high fidelity), started my own collection of 45s in 1966, installed an eight-track tape player under the dash of my mint 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass in 1973 during my senior year at Immaculate Conception High School, installed an in-dash cassette tape player in my mom’s 1974 Cutlass on Christmas Eve of 1977, drove sedans with compact disc players and now can sync up multiple music formats in my 70th Anniversary Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.
Think about the industry-related businesses that have come and gone in those 50 years.
During my 20-year career as a newspaperman and journalist, I first typed out stories on a 1955 Remington, advanced to an IBM electromatic and then purchased my own word processor. I first sat in front of a desktop computer in 1991 when I returned to Elmhurst College, my alma mater, to work in communications, special events and fundraising.
While I now have a laptop computer with desktop port, I also can write and post stories about the Elmhurst Chamber and our members to our website, social media pages and other online outlets from my smartphone.
While the history of aviation dates back thousands of years starting with Chinese-designed kites, it wasn’t until the lighter-than-air concepts for flight via dirigibles, zeppelins and blimps that centuries of water or rail transportation for passengers as well as cargo was first impacted.
Dirigibles were viewed as the future in air travel until the Hindenburg crashed in flames at Lakehurst, N.J. in 1937. The airline industry that took flight after World War I expanded its wings dramatically post-World War II, especially in the United States. As flight became faster and more cost-effective, travel by boat or train was relegated to those passengers with more leisure time.
So unless you want to risk getting some unwanted leisure time, it’s wise to have a plan ... and then be prepared to change on the fly.
John R. Quigley is president and CEO of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce.