LOW KAY HWA: We’ve often heard this before: it’s perfectly reasonable for us to stay in our comfort zone, for we are satisfied with what we have. However, unfortunately, in a competitive society like Singapore, sometimes, this might not be true.
Let’s use an example: an owner of a small supermarket in a neighbourhood has been generating enough revenue to pay himself reasonable well and to fight inflation. He does not seek for growth; instead, his priority is to maintain his revenue because he believes that the location of this shop, his branding and his good relationship with his suppliers will provide a livelihood for him forever. Every day, he goes to his shop and helps out with his staff.
But let’s face the truth: that is comfortable and that’s why he does not want any change.
One day, a supermarket chain opens an outlet just across the street. With its detailed market research, better suppliers’ prices, strong branding, and its creative and high-budget marketing campaigns, it crushes the small supermarket within three months.
The owner’s comfort zone has just destroyed his livelihood, his children’s education funds and his life.
While it is easy to put the blame to the supermarket chain, have you even thought of this: Why does the supermarket chain open an outlet there? Because it wants to earn more; it wants to move out of its comfort zone every day. It is competitive, much like any surviving business in Singapore.
In other words, if you are not out there destroying others, others will destroy you.
If you feel that this is unfair, unethical or even unreasonable, I’m afraid I’ve bad news for you: Welcome to reality, and welcome to a competitive society like Singapore. Think you have a stable job and there’s no need to improve what you do? Think again. With globalization and strong competition all over the world, there are hundreds of people fighting for where you sit now, or machines ready to take over your job. Unless you can do better than what you do yesterday, you’re just one step closer to losing your job.
I’ve come across many businesses refusing to change or improve, and eventually folding. Remember the numerous retail shops that refused to move on to e-commerce and believe that people will still prefer to buy from brick-and-mortar (we all know the real reason is that they are lazy to move on to e-commerce)? Qoo10 and Amazon come, and they folded almost immediately. Remember the sales manager who only fights to hit his sales quota monthly and refuses to increase his quota? A young competitive fresh graduate comes in, increases sales twofold and the old sales manager is told to leave.
Of course I’m not implying that mediocrity is bad. I’m suggesting that on a daily basis, maybe we can strive to be slightly better than yesterday. A little improvement per day will put us in an advantageous position compared to others who stay stagnant. Like what we often heard, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
Let’s fight for a tomorrow by doing something better today.
This commentary was written by Low Kay Hwa.
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