7 Business trigger



Owning over a dozen firms taught me this:

Leaders anticipate change while losers react.

Change only. Technology is like a personal trainer pressing the UP arrow on our treadmill, speeding up business processes and accelerating transformation. We can’t fall behind! Business triggers help.

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The narrower window between seismic developments in any industry and across cultures puts pressure on businesses today. Ideas and products have shorter lifespans. The interval between your breakthrough idea and someone else’s better one is now months, not decades.

Your competitors can see your blog postings, Twitter feed, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. Show your hand. Everyone sees what you have and uses it to create the next thing. Online communication has created a culture of high expectations and short patience.

How do company leaders keep ahead of the competition and provide superior customer service?

Leaders must adjust to these shifts’ primary business triggers. Every action prepares us for the next. Success requires control. To control, you must anticipate. Know business triggers.


Leaders in any field become chess players, not pieces. Business success involves creating value, analyzing trends, and anticipating obstacles.

Only 4% of firms survive ten years. They’re still standing, not lucrative. A successful business starts at 10 years. How do we predict change?

Understanding business crisis causes. Embrace this and map the region ahead of you to constantly watch the periphery for strangers. (Remember Apple’s music entry? Business courses are never closed. Everyone can play. Today, become a chess player, not a piece.

7 Business Triggers

The Seven Business Triggers are often overlooked. These giant red reset buttons may wipe out established firms and even entire industries overnight. They can start a crisis or endless opportunity.

1. The Nature of Your Rivals Has Shifted

Unanticipated competitive changes are the first business cause for the severe loss. Many instances exist.

You can be the Blockbuster Video of your industry, thinking you have the market cornered, yet in a blink of an eye, you’re a non-factor because you failed to recognize a rising competitor’s attraction and additional value.

Remember: Netflix’s 2017 global sales exceeded $11 billion. For Q1 2018, it earned $290.1 million. The streaming giant earned more in three months than in 2016.

Yet, in 2000, Netflix offered $50 million to Blockbuster, which was making $4 billion per year. Netflix wanted Blockbuster to become the brick-and-streaming mortar service, but Blockbuster said, “What do we need this for?” They lost business because they didn’t perceive competition as a trigger.

Four years later, Blockbuster introduced its streaming service, but it was too late. 2005 saw 4.2 million Netflix users. While the obstinate storefront had 50 million members in 2007, Netflix delivered its billionth DVD that year. The radar indicated a sea change. Netflix was worth $13 billion when Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010.

No matter your size, competition will cause catastrophe.

While you, I, and every kindergartener we know have Netflix accounts, Blockbuster storefronts were boarded up. On January 8, 2018, it streamed over 250 million hours of movies and TV episodes. Industry collapsed. They predicted technology. We changed. Playing moved the board pieces.

Blockbuster had the opportunity to innovate, adapt, and create, but it chose to ignore this business trigger. Netflix executives concede that if Blockbuster had launched their streaming subscription sooner, Netflix would have struggled to break Blockbuster’s movie rental market dominance. Instead, competition knocked off a 20-year industry ruler. Checkmate.


Instead of thinking you know everything, ask smarter questions to identify business triggers. How is your company like Blockbuster? How are you caught in your thoughts and vulnerable to new competition?

The psychology of a leader who rejects a technology trend can sink a $4 billion firm. You become the disrupter if you can use technology to meet demands and offer value.

Look into recent technological business triggers. Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in April 2012. Imagine. You could make $1 billion by creating a mobile app to filter and share images with pals. Good.

More proof? Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion. WhatsApp processed 10 billion messages every day for three years after its 2009 launch.

Wondering how much WhatsApp caused a communication crisis? Ask a teen’s parent. WhatsApp’s billions of free communications avoid cellular providers’ per-text costs, making it worth its weight in SMS-text-defying gold. Free video chat and international calling have further disrupted communications standards.

Engaging in tech shifts rather than just avoiding them can boost your impact and business success. What technologies could transform my business? What industry-first technology could we use? Can I create change? Even cutting-edge technology will age.


Napster? Limewire, KaZaA, Morpheus, etc.? Technology did not affect the game this time. Business trigger #3: a societal shift that made music theft seem legal. We dubbed it “downloading,” not stealing. Downloading albums before they were released.

If you’re old enough to recall music stores, most of us wouldn’t put a CD up our shirt and leave without paying. The culture allowed that online for a few years. Millions of people stole songs because they assumed the information is free.

We forgot that original music was made by musicians who spent lifetimes creating one, two, or five songs to make a living performing their hearts out every night. The culture shifted, destroying an industry.

Music sold $38.6 billion in 1999. Napster started that year. The music industry fell 58% from $40 billion in 1999 to $16 billion in 2000. Consider. Revenue fell over 60% overnight. Consumer culture changed.

Like any business trigger, you can use it to your advantage: Apple capitalized on shrinking attention spans and downloading mania to build a hit (not to mention profitable).

In his infinite wisdom, Steve Jobs reasoned that while our culture won’t pay $15 for a new CD, people also don’t want to spend hours on the internet stealing entire libraries. Crazy concept. 99 cents per song is perfect for short attention spans. Digital singles outsold CDs by $819 million in 2007.

Apple became the world’s largest music retailer by meeting the culture’s need for cheap, convenient, and rapid music. They tracked crucial cultural developments and added value faster than anyone else.

Apple sold 25 billion songs in less than 10 years. They revolutionized music, books, and in-pocket entertainment. Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, and even YouTube Music has changed music culture.

4. Alteration of the Economic Climate

Ask a real estate agent next time if the economics can change an industry. Most of them can captivate you with real-life campfire tales that show how business triggers like economic recessions and interest rate changes have touched them personally and painfully. Is real estate unrelated? Government policy? Can that harm your business? Yes.

Modern coffee. Consider Starbucks’ daily $4 donations. Ask former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz how a $4 coffee economy has altered his life and business. Starbucks has survived this business trigger, despite its high sales and earnings.

Starbucks’ second-quarter 2008 earnings plummeted. The brand’s in-store sales were negative for the first time and global operational income had dropped 26%. Once the global recession began, consumers stopped spending. Starbucks lost $6.7 million in the third quarter of 2008, its first deficit. Earnings plunged 97% in the fourth quarter and 53% overall. As the financial crisis spread across Europe and Asia, Starbucks’ revenues dropped 8%, rendering its economic model ineffective.

Howard Shultz’s book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Spirit is about this: Schultz returned as CEO during the company’s financial collapse after eight years away. That’s your call.

In the thick of the crisis, Schultz halted the company’s expansion. He reduced expenditures by approximately $600 million and closed more than 7,000 American Starbucks locations for three hours on February 26, 2008, for employee retraining. “This is not about training,” Schultz told his employees. “This is about the love, compassion, and devotion that we all need to have for the customer.”

Schultz refocused his core business throughout the slump. He examined Starbucks’ current business and what it needed to become. He reignited his consumers’ affection and quelled the ego that will rule any corporation that loves its product more than its clients. That’s why Starbucks is a model of how to thrive in difficult economic times. According to Schultz:

We had to handle our own challenges and cope with the calamitous financial crisis, so I returned to Starbucks as CEO in January 2008. For the previous two years, we’ve excelled. The recession strengthened our brand.”

I’ve helped turn around thousands of firms of all sizes, and I’ve found that economic crises inspire breakthroughs. Which season? Coming winter.

A crisis forces us to act without considering our options. Catastrophe can inspire innovation and revolution if used to create. 96% of businesses, even after 10 years of growth, fail to adjust to a changing economic climate.

Do you remember 2008? You’re still alive, congratulations. The global financial crisis changed your business. How did those lessons shape you? More importantly, how will you use it in 2022, 2025, and 2028? To stay ahead of the economic tide, you need to predict and implement what you need to do to be more efficient and effective.


Certain readers serve a specific market. A niche market for a product or service that’s not as common as coffee. I follow Howard Schultz’s business advice even if I don’t drink coffee. Can a change in your consumers’ lives spark your business if you target the ideal customer? Harley Davidson can answer that. Harleys.

Hollywood bad boys inspired baby boomers to buy Harleys. Most sales were made to customers 35–55. (Few 65- or 70-year-olds buy Harleys). Sales peak at 40–45. Doesn’t someone buy a Harley during a midlife crisis?

Harley-Davidson has one issue. My generation and the baby boomers behind us are smaller. Sales would barely increase if every Gen Xer turned 40 and bought a Harley.

The final boomers will retire soon. No more Harleys. They now photograph them in their garage and sell them on Craigslist. It was great for a few thousand kilometers, but they’re 65 and want to sell this near-mint vehicle.

That’s how an unexpected change in your clients’ life may cripple your firm.

Who is the future generation and how will we market to them?

As businesses expand, so do people. Decisions change when people age and have children. This applies to consumers, staff, and you.


Many business owners have had a top employee or salesperson go through a life stage like the birth of a kid, a divorce, or a birthday and come into your office and say, “I want some time away,” “I want to go to spiritual sojourn,” or “I just want to play more golf.” Your business suffers when people stop working or disappear.

Use this business trigger to evaluate your employee retention initiatives. Modern workers desire remote employment, flexible scheduling, and lots of vacation. They want work-life balance and professional advancement.

Encourage breaks. Taking a break can boost creativity. Ask what they want and listen. Find out what motivates them and deliver. Master leadership to overcome this business trigger.

7. Transitioning to a New Phase of Life

Employees may not be the business trigger. You may say, “It’s me, not you.” You may wish to spend more time with your family. Maybe you’ve realized you’re a business operator, not an owner. You reached a threshold and had to perform something you enjoyed. Perhaps you hit a wall in your profession due to burnout, romance, cancer survival, marriage, parenthood, or another life event.

It’s unavoidable: Your life is altered now. Your life changes are a major business trigger. I’ve learned that these are more predictable than you believe.

Give yourself and your employees a break. Refresh. Return to business ownership or plan your leave. Leaving your business won’t help anyone.

Examine the Seven Business Triggers monthly. Think ahead about your organization. Preparations? What should you avoid? What can you do to outperform the competition and serve your clients better?

Adapt. Landscape analysis. Take advantage. Stop playing chess and start playing. Friends, your turn.

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