Is Online Retail Chess or Poker?

So often I hear about businesses that failed because of something or someone else. We as CEOs are responsible for our businesses. Our job is to ask ourselves, what is coming in the next 2, 5, 10 years and how do I get ahead of it rather than complain when it happens. If we don’t anticipate market change and have a strategy to deal with it effectively then we only have ourselves, as CEO’s and leaders, to blame.

I took The Party People online as a high school student in 1999 when my parents needed “the kid” to handle this thing called the Internet. Since then, we have had economic crisis, multiple rounds of fierce competition from big retailers, change, disruption and much more. Some might say we were lucky.

My favourite saying is “There is no such thing as luck. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. While this quote may be flawed in that you cannot control everything, the general principle is worth considering. If we set ourselves up right, we will be in a position to capitalise when opportunity comes knocking. Lots of online retailers killing it today are not “just lucky”- they have built their business on hard work, but more importantly, a good strategy that put themselves in a position to prosper.

If my business fails then it’s because I failed to see or effectively manage the risks of the environment in which my business exists. Many businesses manage short-term risk well, but many are not thinking far enough ahead. It’s important to know your risks and have plans to mitigate them, including long-term risks.

Amazon is a great example where I think many businesses are thinking they have an effective strategy, when they really haven’t thought far enough ahead. I have lost count on the number of times I have heard people say “It’s no big deal, I will just supply them” and then not have an answer for when I ask: “But what happens if they go directly to the brand manufacturer like they have in many cases in the USA?”.

Business is a game of chess, and the winner is always thinking 10 moves ahead with strategies to counter what’s going to come. If you don’t think this way, you’re just a gambler playing poker, hoping the cards fall your way.

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