This week’s focus: Since I launched my consulting business in 2016, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest and best businesses in across the globe. Ten years ago, for instance, I worked with the UK arm of Avon Cosmetics, helping the leadership team to develop a strategy for growth.
I would like to say that the work we did together step-changed the performance of the business, but over the past decade Avon has struggled to compete in a rapidly-changing beauty and retail world. As a result, the company has, over the past five years, lost 90% of its market value, and its share price has collapsed by over 50% in the past year alone.
When I worked with the UK team, one thing was sacrosanct: all the sales had to be delivered through the Avon representatives. This was the most sacred of sacred cows. The entire organisation was built around serving and supporting Avon’s thousands of representatives and management were fearful of doing anything that interfered with that relationship.
The reality, however, was that shopping habits were already changing. The rise of on-line shopping, with next-day delivery, was usurping the slower, more mechanical Avon process. What’s more, finding new representatives was becoming harder, as more women were working full-time and so had less interest in working for Avon as well.
These trends have accelerated over the past decade and while the business has changed to some of these realities, it’s been a case of too little, too late. I have a saying that goes, ‘nothing fails like success’, and Avon is a classic example of a successful business model that is pursued well past its sell-by date.
The conclusion to Avon’s story is that there can be no sacred cows in modern businesses. You must question everything and be as honest and objective as possible when facing into your biggest issues and opportunities. What are the sacred cows for your business, and which of them should you be questioning and potentially killing to help you thrive and grow?
Off The Record: Nothing Lasts Forever by Echo and the Bunnymen
And I want more than I can get
Just trying to, trying to, trying to
Nothing ever lasts forever
© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.