Lesson from BlackBerry

BlackBerry, once the dominant market leader in smartphones, just released the news that it is looking at the possibility of selling all or part of the company. They practically created the smartphone device market, and had a stranglehold on the corporate device segment. Now, they’re in danger of becoming irrelevant, despite adding singer Alicia Keys to its Creative Design group.

The reasons for BlackBerry’s dramatic fall are being debated. And you might say that this has nothing to do with any of us because BlackBerry is a large public company. But as small business owners we can learn something from this.

One of the reasons BlackBerry is in the situation it’s in is because it didn’t react to changes in its marketplace, as new devices emerged with full size touchscreen displays and “soft” keyboards (think iPhone). It seems that the BlackBerry guys felt that their customers would continue to prefer BlackBerry’s physical-keyboard devices. With such a large market lead, they started to believe they were invincible.

The same thing can happen to a small business. Its customers could be singing praises, and the business owner feels he or she owns the market. Things change, but the owner’s not listening, because of the previous adoration. Then the company fades, and this is one story that doesn’t make the press.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what you think about how good you are. It only matters what your customers think.

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