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Online Strategy Depends on Constant Change

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An online business needs to accept constant change as part of its strategy if the business is meant to survive.

Any business that does the same thing year after year and decade after decade has little chance of surviving, much less growing.

Yes, there are exceptions. Some businesses produce certain goods and services without much change over a long period of time. The newspaper industry is a good example because it mostly did the same thing for 300 years — produce print newspapers.

The newspaper industry also is a good example of what happens when an industry is too slow to change when the environment rather suddenly and quickly moves in a different direction. Think Internet.

The online industry is filled with thousands of businesses if not more that couldn’t find their way beyond a strategy that sounded good to investors, maybe even worked for a while, and then collapsed.

Consider some of the biggest online companies today. Verizon, the parent company of AOL and Yahoo!, just announced a major layoff of those staffs. Both AOL and Yahoo! Used to be independent online giants. They are now fragments of their former selves.

Google eliminates products and services on a regular basis. The death of Google+ is one of the biggest and most notable examples.

Companies like the ones above give 100 percent to making a product or service successful. They spend enormous effort and money on trying to find the right strategy if the initial vision doesn’t work. They often make major changes in leadership and the product or service. But when success is beyond reach, those companies kill off their creations and move on to something else.

They change to survive rather than fighting a losing battle.

Even Small Businesses Need Change

The digital landscape isn’t littered just with the dead bodies of companies that lost millions of dollars (and sometimes much more). The landscape has many more small businesses that couldn’t survive or find the right way to change.

A recent case in point is the massive decline in Google AdSense revenue sharing with partners. Anecdotally, webmaster message boards are packed with small companies complaining about major drops in revenue they get from the AdSense ads they put on their sites. Google is holding onto more high-paying ads rather than sharing them. The online revenue growth rate is slowing. There is only so much money to share.

Small online publishers who depended on AdSense as a major income source now must choose between dying or changing. The ones who change successfully will find new sources of income, such as client work and book publishing.

All of this means that the survival of an online business — large or small — depends on a strategy of change.

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