Apple’s growth has slowed significantly. USA Today reports that its gross margin dropped for the fifth straight quarter to 36.8% of sales and that iPad sales are down by 16%.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has recognized Apple is in a mature, slow-growth market. If a company that grew steadily through the recession and whose stock price peaked at $700 in September 2012 can go through slow growth, your company can, too!
Even an extremely successful company like Apple is vulnerable to changes in demand, customers, markets and disruptive technologies. It’s not enough to create a good business plan once – you must remain strategic and reinvent your plan every day. Always ask, “What happens next? What’s the next big thing for my company?” The “next big thing” for Apple may be the iWatch.
Change is the very nature of business, and those who stand still lose out big time. Two companies that come to mind are Montgomery Ward and Kmart. History is not always a guarantee of future success.
So what do you do if you’re in a mature market or if growth has slowed? You can focus on both organic growth and external growth, which includes acquisition. But before you select a specific path, return to your business strategy. Consider these questions: “Where are we now?” and “Where do we want to be?”
Be sure that any plan is strategic, and always look for opportunities for growth. This way, when there are changes in demand or changes in the industry, market or competition, you will be prepared, having already anticipated them as best you can.