Your Business Will Be Obsolete in 3 Years–and That’s a Good Thing

Posted 2 years ago in Small Business Tips
by Meg Sproul

It’s 9:27 a.m. You had one of those mornings where “just five more minutes” turned into 45 more minutes, and now you’re running late for work – again. As you sprint out of your car and toward the office doors, you pull out your iPhone to check your calendar and it slips out of your hand in your rush to get inside. Your phone lands with a smack! on the pavement and the screen shatters into a million pieces.


We’ve all been there. What happens next will also feel very familiar – as soon as you get to your desk you’ll start researching how much it will cost you to fix your phone, but before long, you’ll give up and decide to just buy a new one. Your phone is couple of years old and you’ve had your eye on the newest model anyway. Your coworker just bought one, and using your old phone in front of her was making you feel like your grandma who still carries a flip phone.

We all want something shiny and new

And if we’re being really honest with ourselves, whether you’re the type of person who cracks every phone you get within a week or the type who immediately puts your phone in a bulletproof case, you never expect to keep an iPhone longer than a couple of years. The consumer attention span lasts about as long as a celebrity marriage. Pretty soon, someone is looking for something newer and shinier and the ‘old model’ is left in the dust.

So it is with your business. What’s that? You don’t think your millennial tendency to need the latest and greatest technology has anything to do with running a successful business?

Actually, it has everything to do with your business. You’ll continue to buy Apple products because you know they make the best technology, even though you also know you’re going to have to repurchase essentially the same product in three years. And let’s be honest – you will. So what’s Apple’s dirty little secret? They build obsolescence into their business model. And here’s the thing – it works.

Whether you’re a freelance graphic designer or you own a boutique lamp store, applying the principle of obsolescence into your business model can help you win repeat customers, hustle for new business far less often, and make significantly more money.

How to become the ‘Apple’ of your customers’ eye

If this whole idea makes you feel like a greasy con artist, it shouldn’t. Obsolescence is good for your customers, too. Regardless of how great your customer’s new website is or how flawless their redecorated office is, within a couple of years consumer preferences will have shifted and they’ll be in need of an update. And that’s where you come in.

  • Win the customer’s trust up front. Present yourself the way Apple does – start by having a beautiful product that meets a customer need in a unique way.
  • Next, tell them why they need your product or service. Don’t tell them what you can do for them. Tell the customer what they can do with your product and convince them you’re the only one who can give them the service they need.
  • Make ordering your products/services seamless and easy, from the payment method to the packaging. (Looking for a free online accounting software that makes sending invoices and getting paid easy? Click here to get started.)
  • Make the experience of doing business with you so pleasant that when your customer inevitably needs your services again, they’ll come running back to you because of the experience you provide. (And on that note, we all know that it isn’t necessarily Apple’s technology that is any better than Microsoft’s, but we keep coming back to Apple because of the experience of being an Apple user.)
  • Win your customers’ business again and again.
  • Profit, rinse and repeat.

So if you’re looking for a way to hustle less and make more cash, it might be time to learn a couple of lessons from your iPhone – and no, I’m not talking about Siri. The consumer need to have the next best thing isn’t just good for you – it’s good for your customers. When you build obsolescence into your business model, everyone wins.

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