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It’s Not Your Parents’ Oldsmobile

Making changes to your business as a 2nd or 3rd generation jeweler can be hard, but if there’s one thing that all business gurus agree on, it’s that businesses of every size must evolve and grow if they want to remain viable.

If you’re a 2nd or 3rd-generation jeweler (or 4th? We know there are some of you out there!), we’re talking to you.

You’ve grown up in this business. You’ve learned from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles the way things should be done. You respect them, and what they’ve accomplished, and you want to honor the family legacy. You also have a lot riding on your shoulders. After all – your family has gotten the business this far, and what you do next could make it better . . . or not.

So when it comes to making changes, it’s hard. It feels a little disrespectful to suggest you have new way of doing things, because too often, new way sounds like better way, and that may not feel right.

So it may be helpful to think about the fact that your parents, and your grandparents, were doing things the new way once. Just think about it: Early in the 20th century, new technologies were being released that weren’t available before. Cash registers became the vogue. Stores started putting products out on the floor, instead of behind the counter. Elevators were introduced, which helped launch the fortunes of a generation of department stores.

In the mid-century, malls started opening, and jewelry stores started moving from main street to mall street. Air conditioning made it easier to have bigger stores. And that big category changer – the credit card – was introduced in 1950.

It may not seem like it now, but all those changes were major innovations, and families argued over whether or not to adopt them. Not so different from today, right?

Today’s arguments tend to be over how much to spend on advertising and marketing, whether to use the same ad agency the family has been using since 1978, and how much of a commitment to make to digital. You’re probably up at night wondering which new technologies your company needs to manage inventory and cash flow, get better control over your purchasing, or pick pack and ship those online orders. But change itself – the introduction of new ways to do business – that is a constant. Only the elements of change are different.

{tweetme via=vdbapp}If there’s one thing that all business gurus agree on, it’s that businesses of every size must evolve and grow if they want to remain viable. It’s not ever a question of if you should change – it’s a question of which changes should we make?{/tweetme}

The Chinese have a saying, and it goes something like this: Wealth will not last beyond the 3rd generation. The saying is about the difficulty of changing what one’s parents or grandparents have started, and about how change is often taken as a criticism of what happened before. If there’s one thing that family businesses today should embrace, it’s the idea that the world is constantly changing, and that whatever makes sense today will possibly (probably?) not make sense tomorrow.

So here’s to evolution, passionate investigation and debate, and acceptance of change. The family that changes together, stays together.