Looking at the world, you either see what is or see what you are hoping for. Our temptation is to see what we are hoping for. At the Vuka Advisory Board for Entrepreneurs we get to see some entrepreneurs who look at the world and see what they are hoping for.

Entrepreneurs bury their heads in their dreams. They rarely look at the reality and see the world for what it is. Hence most entrepreneurs don’t prefer to look at their financials because numbers tell them their reality. If you don’t like your reality, you won’t like your financial numbers because they remind you of your reality.

Let’s take a couple of industries as examples: For 15 years the people in the newspaper business should have seen the writing on the wall when the internet started. The chances that 10 years from now we are going to chop down a lot of trees and a delivery guy drops newspapers at your house for you to read even if you are not home because you paid for it months ago and then only read it for 15 minutes and then recycle it are zero.

What the newspaper industry saw is that people are getting information from all sorts and manner of places and what almost everybody in the newspaper business has done is to say “we don’t like that future, we are hoping for a future that’s a lot like the past, so we are going to ignore what is happening at the moment. This is just a fad, it will pass.” When you make a decision like that you make it at your peril.

This is the same decision that music executes made when Apple introduced itunes. Instead of embracing what was happening, embracing the change in the industry, they decided to ignore the changing reality because they were hoping for a future that’s a lot like the past.

This is the same decision Kodac made when Apple introduced smart phones with digital cameras, the same decision that the South African Post Office (SAPO) fails to make to see that their business model cannot remain the same in the face of all sorts of electronic devices that people use to send messages and information. Traditional bricks and mortar bookstores struggled to adjust to the introduction of ebooks, some even closed shop.

Industries change, either we adopt the change, better still we anticipate and lead the change or we look at the changes in the industry and hope that the future be like the past.

Industries change every five years. Whether we like it or not, in every industry, change happens on average every five years.

You either defend the status-quo or you create the future.

Too often we forget that the future doesn’t care whether or not you believe in it, what the future is doing is that it’s coming, either you are the one who is leading it or you are left behind and have to play catch-up.

Some entrepreneurs say “we don’t want the future to come because we are happy where we are,” unfortunately a little startup will come and change the rules and you will be left behind.

Do you see what is or do you see what you are hoping for, hoping that the future will be like the past?

Change before you have to. – Jack Welch

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