Some version of this quote is attributed to Maynard Keynes... but having just heard it recently, it struck hard. Similar aphorisms come to mind but this one is specific to circumstances and bears noting.
(Let me mention first, I have been gambling lately. Not intelligently though. The lottery scratch offs. OK, condemn me now, I can take it. But I haven't been winning very much... in fact pickings have been very bad in the last two months. So, keep this in mind. Actually, the wife does the scratching...)
We act daily on facts, and repeat our habits. If what we do by rote is successful, then we repeat our 'system'. This would include all the elements that go into operating a successful business: branding, marketing, SEO, web and social media development, client communications, etc.
But when the 'wins' are not consistent, we have a tendency to keep the same habit and routine intact. We think that since it worked before, well, everything is sound and should keep working to stay successful.
The problem is that we may not be looking at the ball and ignoring essentials -- fundamentals that are steering our 'markets' in one direction or another.
We tend to focus on the 'machine' intently -- often more than the hard facts on which the machine is based/designed. And, if not aware, we run the machine in the ground expecting the same results. But, if the facts have changed then we are into the adage: 'the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting a different result'... or actually expecting the same result despite a change in the larger market.
Markets change based on fashion, finance, social and political mores even. The pendulum swings in one direction then swings back. Sometimes it's stuck in one position and hopefully your machine is geared for that!
STOCK MARKET ADAGE: 'DON'T FIGHT THE TREND'
Business owners need to be aware of how their machine is responding to market changes. If you are not 'changing gears' to meet expectations of a changing potential clientele then you will be losing momentum, time, and money. You may even find yourself so far out on a limb that you will find yourself in a financial quagmire.
Trying to capture and profit from every change in a market though - small especially- may not be prudent. You should focus on your strengths and specialty. Just be aware if the market on the whole could be moving away from your specialty, then you should consider possibly a different niche. Think strategically. At best, you can make small adjustments; at worst you may have to retool completely.
So, being aware at all times is very important. Small businesses especially have very little float to absorb while changing gears. Don't be blindsided by focusing on the machine entirely and ignoring the bigger picture!
Be aware at all times so that you are not the frog in the pan that is slowly heating up... Change can be incremental and if it catches you flatfooted you may get clobbered!!
I have been designing large luxury homes for 30 years, mostly in traditional styles. The last two designs we finished are much smaller and are retro to some degree. There is a segment for smaller product and mid-century modern seems to be strong. I have not changed my branding to accommodate this market but am surprised that two builders asked for something completely different recently. The house at top is a retro 50s thing at only 1200 SF with two bedrooms and carport. The one below is 2100 with three bedrooms, two baths.
(Oh, and if your luck is not good at gambling, then back off until some winners come through. I think the whole system is rigged!)