Nuts – all I needed was nuts (the joy of being vegetarian), but nuts are easier to buy than ever before. Have you ever stopped to think about how different shopping is now, compared with a few years ago? Perhaps you’ve stopped to think about how different your firm will be like in a few years’ time and even will it survive? What do you think are the changes to the profession, they’re more fundamental than many think. How are you adapting your offering and skills to deal with the changes to the profession?

changes to the profession - will you survive like this woolworths store?

Shopping has changed (not just for nuts)

Last night I was shopping for the sort of things that are not in every supermarket. I needed shelled hemp seeds, cashew nuts and ground almonds in bulk and a few other (even odder) things. Buying them took me less time than buying normal food stuffs.

A few years ago I could only buy those products in a health food store, if at all. Now it took four clicks of a mouse and they will turn up on my front door at a lower price than if I spent an hour driving to the shops and before searching for them.

Some shops are adapting to that, others have been wiped off of our high street. Remember Woolworths, book stores, sand mall bank branches?

The disruptive forces of technology

Technology is disrupting many businesses, many of them no doubt thought they were “safe”. The world’s biggest taxi firm owns no taxis, but you can summon them easily. I had a great weekend in Paris in a lovely apartment, for less cost and hassle than a hotel (Airbnb), supermarkets now have too much space in their stores (online shopping), the record industry was decimated by downloads. I’m sure you could add more?

I strongly suspect many people in the decimated industries never thought it would happen to them, or in that way, or that timescale – or they would have acted?

Every business has seen some technology driven changes and (hopefully) saved staff costs, but is there something deeper to consider?

The changes to the profession are fundamental

In the good old days a good retail manager knew how to adjust her orders due to weather, local events etc. She would adjust the store layout to maximise sales and help customers. Now, the till places the order, the system adjusts for the weather forecast, the computer tells her how to adjust the layout and price changes are driven by…algorithms.

Good retailers are now driven by algorithms, not people. Prices are set, orders are placed, and some depots even have robots pick the stock. Retail success was about store layout and knowledge; now it’s about being better at technology than your competitors.

What’s changed for your profession?

If retailing success has changed from heuristic knowledge of your customers, to being technology experts – what’s happened in your profession?

I recently purchased all the legal advice I needed over the internet. I uploaded a few variables, downloaded the contract and then had the option to speak to a solicitor for 15 minutes should I need to.

The average business owner is now much more able to do their own accounts using the cloud than before. Compliance is becoming easier, so what will you do to earn money? Being a business advisor is more than simply telling someone their profits, the computer can do that. Before long it could probably read them out and explain them!

It’s easy to say spend more time advising, but if your ‘advising’ is just passing on information, then you’re not thinking fundamentally enough. Technology is changing what it is to be a good Advisor/ Accountant/ Lawyer/ anything else you’d like to name.

It is much more than simply cost savings, and more than just changing the way people consume, it’s a whole new set of requirements.

How fundamental do you think changes to the profession will be in the next five years? Are changing what you do in readiness, like the retailers that get new skills or are you like the retailers that didn’t believe it would happen to them?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

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