Change or Die – Mike Greene blogs for Allia

In the first of a new series of blogs, newly announced Entrepreneur in Residence at Allia Future Business Centre Peterborough, Mike Greene, shares his advice for businesses facing changes in their industry, inspired by the reaction to news of Tesco’s merger with Booker Wholesale earlier today.


This week saw one of the biggest Mergers in UK Grocery history as Tesco announced its proposed £3.7bn merger with Booker Wholesale.

There was an immediate rash of twitter questions, conversations and mostly panic, as people in the sector immediately took a ‘Chicken Licken’ view of the merger…. Assuming that the sky would fall in and looking for all the negative that would emanate from such a deal:

  • Competition would be reduced
  • Independent retailers would be under greater pressure from the scale and influence of Tesco
  • Suppliers would be further squeezed to improve terms as Tesco/Booker leverage their combined super-volume in any negotiations
  • Shoppers will get less choice
  • Shop closures

Retailers saying things like “this is scary news for us all” and “the world has gone mad”. There were literally thousands of tweets, texts and emails within hours of the news breaking and the vast majority saw it as a bad thing.

At some stage all businesses will face challenge and change, whether large or small, established or start-up, high tech or low-tech. Our natural instinct is ‘fight or flight’ but human behaviour, political correctness and inclusive, anti-bullying teachings have, in recent years, taken away our comfort to fight and rise up… instead we all too often run scared and look for cover. I would never condone fighting, bullying or exclusiveness but in businesses we sometimes have to:


STOP – before we panic and run in the wrong direction – physically, mentally or metaphorically

BREATHE – Panic can take our breath away – deep breaths allow more Oxygen to the brain to optimise thinking, logic and all options to be more usefully considered

THINK – with your Brain now fully oxygenated and calm you will always come up with a more considered, balanced and intelligent response to the challenge or change

I was immediately reminded of a few quotes about change…

John Irish once said:

“Change or Die, our business is like dancing with elephants – you are either quick or dead”

and another unattributed quote that’s relevant is:

“You can either get bitter or you can get better”

I myself have always believed that “there is great opportunity within change” you just have to look through the noise and, as Richard Branson famously said, “people saying it can’t be done are often over-taken by people just doing it”

Having a clear strategy will always reduce the impact of change and enable more strategic re-direction of your business – see

Get involved with mentors, associations and networks within your area of speciality, focus and/or business – if you keep your head down and only ever look at, or obsessively focus on your own business you may find yourself in the dark when these things happen with no network or mentors to turn to for advice and opinion.

The reality is that change cannot be stopped, and, in times of change, even at the extreme with war or recession, there are some companies that evolve and grow into more focussed, effective and faster growing businesses, whilst, sadly, others get so caught up in complaining that the sky is falling, that they create their own reality and the future they predicted becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And I will end this week’s thought/blog with a poem that I think sums up my thoughts on challenges and change:


“If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don’t,

If you like to win, but you think you can’t

It is almost certain you won’t.


If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost

For out of the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will

It’s all in the state of mind.


If you think you are outclassed, you are

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.


Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But sooner or later the man who wins

Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”


Walter D. Wintle


Fancy a chat with Mike? Want some advice on starting or growing your business? Facing a change and need some guidance?
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