Failure or Success? ‘Gradually, Then Suddenly.’

I’d seen a web post recently that was describing, in funny terms, how friends had stayed friends for many years, and as one friend asked another, “How’d we get to be so old?,” the other one answers, “Gradually…. then suddenly!”

I Googled it and it turns out the phrase belongs to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” In that book, one character asks another how he went bankrupt. The answer is “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

It occurred to me that the description is in fact really apt for business right now, and the optical/vision care business is no exception. It can mean a gradual decline, leading to ultimate failure. OR, it can mean viewing those strategic improvements and little wins that can take time to come to fruition, but suddenly….work and mean, success!

Today, business, including the retail business, including health care professions, is coping with really unique circumstances—a sluggish economic recovery, continued trepidation about world markets, a change in consumer behaviors and habits and the digital/internet revolution. These are things that demand all business owners take the time to re-examine the little operational and structural elements of their business as well as the top and bottom line realities.

Business decisions today require that top-line goals do, in fact, reflect a strategy. What does your business stand for? Who does it serve? How well, tactically, is it positioned to do that? What are your competitors doing/not doing? What are the changes happening that force you to consider making the small course corrections now that will lead to a prosperous future?

Look not only at your own business but at your local market, who’s succeeding, who’s not? Who’s still there and thriving? Who’s fading and who do you think could soon be…gone?

Take control, make a plan and point to your own outcome: Gradually, then…suddenly.