The times are a-changin’

Anyone who has been following the news over the last week or so would have seen the tremendous changes taking place in the world of media. Perhaps no industry has been harder hit in recent years by technological change than the media industry.


I think the first thing to acknowledge is that the people who have been running our major media organisations are not stupid. They are smart, experienced operators who are undoubtedly supported by even smarter consultants and advisors.


Nevertheless, they have found it extremely hard to keep pace with and adapt to the changing realities of the media landscape.


Just when the shift to viewing papers online becomes clear, along comes YouTube and user-generated content. That’s followed by the social media of Twitter and Facebook. Then, there’s the impact of mobile and tablets and smart TVs.


It’s been and continues to be a very, very challenging time. Mistakes have been made. Opportunities have been missed. Warnings have been ignored.


So, what’s the significance of all this for people contemplating start-ups?


Obviously, if it involves the media and advertising, the significance is profound. Your concept better marry up to the new realities of those new eco-systems where digital is king and rapidly evolving in so many unpredictable directions.


However, I believe there is a profound lesson for anyone involved in a start-up, whether it is in media or somewhere completely different: the pace of change is immense and unstoppable.


You better be confident that the insight your business has been built on is real and will be sustainable.


You need to be sure that the business you will be launching will not be born into a world that is suddenly different. You also need to be confident your idea is not hitching its wagon to merely a fad.


Remember Second Life, anyone? Entire advertising agencies were built to service Second Life and help companies build brand equity and sales in that virtual world. Needless to say they are not around anymore.


There are no easy answers to this massive challenge. I don’t have them. I am grappling with this task myself on a daily basis. The key point is that you need to be aware that the challenge is out there.


In today’s world, things don’t stand still. Opportunities come and go faster than ever before. You need to accept that fact and do your best to deal with it.


It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s disorienting. But it’s also ultimately why start-ups are launched in the first place. Because someone believes they can create a better way.


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