Innovate or Fade Away

How many times have you heard about a business whose owners were unwilling to “change with the times”? Convinced that the business model they’ve employed for the past fifty years is as good today as always, they miss the subtle (or not so subtle) signs that it’s time to innovate…or fade away.

Now, I’m not referring to the business owners who have “shiny penny” syndrome – those that are focused on the newest, greatest thing every week. I’m talking about businesses on the other end of the spectrum.

We’re currently working with a family owned dairy that has been around for almost 60 years. In their local community, there were once approximately two hundred dairies.

Any guess on how many are left?

Four.

Yes, four dairies out of an original two hundred!

What can a family owned dairy that has been in operation for almost 60 years do to avoid the same fate as the many other dairies that have faded away?

Innovate!

Our clients applied for and received a USDA grant to fund a feasibility study to assess whether they could take back control of their financial future by processing, bottling and selling their own, high quality milk & related milk products to their local market.

As we get further into this project, I am increasingly impressed with the business savvy and creativity of these business owners. Seeing the writing on the wall, they’re not willing to cling to a business model that is clearly pulling them and every other dairy in one direction – extinction.

We’re now in their local market surveying retail markets and consumers to find out exactly what milk and milk related products the market wants, what they’re willing to pay, how they want their milk packaged (cardboard vs. plastic vs. glass) and what features of buying “local” milk are important to them.

Before jumping headlong into a project that will require massive capital and “hoping” it will work, they’re making sure that there is first a market…and then will mold their operations to fit what the market is looking for.

It’s an exciting project and I’m excited every single day to see what direction things will head based on the research we do and feedback we get. It’s like being on an adventure…without knowing where it will ultimately end. We look forward to working with this innovative family to find their solution to remaining viable, relevant and profitable in their local community!

Is this family owned dairy going to fade away…clinging to an old business model?

Absolutely not!

They will innovate and change their financial and business destiny. And we’ll get to be along for the journey – what an honor!

About the Author

+Stacy Kennedy is a consultant with Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Stacy directly at skennedy@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 203.

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