We live in a world running at a break-neck speed today. Things that worked before, may not work anymore. What do we do as businesses trying to keep pace with rapid changes? We become incisively decisive.
I read a great article from Jason Fried, co-founder and president of 37signals. I have admired 37signals since its earlier days and have been a loyal customer of their Basecamp service for a long time, and still is. In the article featured on Inc. Magazine (another great magazine I like), Jason talked about the painful but necessary decisions the company made to retire perfectly profitable services such as Sortfolio and Writeboard as the company moves forward. And he is not alone in making such decisions, among many who run big and small businesses alike.
For example, in 2003, we took on an idea of becoming book publishers, representing small upstart authors. There were many fiction manuscripts submitted to us then for review, and quite frankly, besides the enormous work necessary to get these manuscripts ready for publishing, the stories were not compelling in the regional sense - that is, those stories might be compelling in their places of origins, but might not resonate with our side of the world. We did end up working with a few non-fiction book authors, as book publicists, since publicity is our core business. We are not adverse to publicizing a great book author with a ready and published book and has enough sponsorships and means to reach out to the market. We are not saying we will close the doors absolutely to every book manuscript, but unless there is a blockbuster-ready manuscript that is written exceptionally well, book authors might be better served by a dedicated literary agent and publisher elsewhere.
Sometime in 2004, we were running our own mail servers as well as consulting for some clients then. Together with an old friend and service provider, we co-developed an antispam and anti-malware system for mail servers running on BSD servers (also capable of running on Mac OS X and Linux). We even went so far as to register the trademark. However, it was a great experiment and a great learning experience, but not sufficiently compelling enough for us to invest even more time and resources to commercialize it to a grand scale. If you ask us for advice and ideas, we would be more than happy to help you understand the technologies, but it would not be something we want to do full-time.
Therefore, fast forward to today, and our firm basically focus on what we do best - communication. We communicate our clients' ideas to the media and other stakeholders through holistic communications, whether it be public relations (PR), direct marketing, events, or even advertising (all types). We also help clients reach out to their intended audiences through social media and mobile/web apps, which are merely more channels of communication. We also leverage on our internal communication and human capital development expertise gained since the 1980s, to help clients develop their people through in-house learning programs. As a small firm, it makes sense to focus on what we do best, given the resources and time we have on hand.
It is an exciting world, and it may most probably get even more exciting in terms of reaching out to markets and customers through a variety of means. But whatever the size of the organization, we need to always remember what we love best, and what we know best.