Keys to Success: Opportunity and Adaptability

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On February 19, 2013

A few weeks ago there was a fairly significant announcement from the United States Postal Service (USPS). In an effort to right their financial ship and stave off extinction, the USPS released the news that, beginning in August, they would no longer offer Saturday letter delivery.

Part of the reason that announcement was significant, of course, is due to the fact that the USPS is such an icon of American life. The USPS is also a major employer, listing 546,000 employees in its 32,000 facilities and generating $66 billion in revenue in 2011.

On top of that, the USPS has been an integral part of business in the United States for years. The dominant role that the Post Office has played in the life of business, however, has been diminishing over the past few years.

So while the USPS announcement that they were suspending Saturday delivery was perhaps significant, it wasn’t really surprising. And it wasn’t even the big story. Hot on the heels of the USPS announcement, rumors began to swirl that was looking at the substantial resources of the USPS to provide same-day delivery for their customers.

It’s kind of interesting. While the USPS has struggled to adapt to change— has been an agent of change. Even though it took them a long time to realize a profit, changed business. They changed the way people shop. They understand that they have to keep changing—keep adapting to what their market wants. Originally didn’t have much competition. Now most retailers offer online services. What once made them unique is now pretty much a commodity. So they’re looking to raise the stakes—and they’re looking at same-day delivery as a means to do it.

What we have here are two organizations with different-but-related problems. The USPS has a pretty significant infrastructure. They have the equipment and the personnel in place to deliver a lot of packages quickly. What they don’t have is the demand. Amazon, on the other hand, has more demand than their infrastructure can handle.

Will we see a new partnership between and the USPS? I don’t know. There are a lot of details to be worked out. But it’s interesting that (at least on the part of someone is looking—not just at the business problem, but also at a possible unique and powerful business solution.

What about your business? Do you have a business problem that might actually be a business opportunity if you could find the right partner? Or do you have an underused strength that could be turned into a major gain by someone else who lacks what you have to offer? Not all business successes are achieved by “Lone Ranger” companies. Sometimes partnering up (formally or informally) can meet a need that neither company can meet on their own.