In general, ends in death.

The small store with a decline in sales, less money for inventory, upkeep, and service. The inventory becomes outdated, the service spotty and things are messy. Because of that, sales decline even further, less money for the store. In the end, the story is empty and all customers are gone.

The legacy technology firm competing with technology giants and their billions on one hand, and agile newcomers with fresh ideas and low overhead on the other hand. One by one their customers are leaving, a slow and painful death.

Sure, there are always tough times in business, things come and go. But you can feel it when a business is in a death spiral. The marketing is still glossy, the promises keep coming but the people are retreating. As Nassim Taleb wrote: “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” People stick around but they know how it will end and they put all their energy into finding a new paycheck.

Why wait for the death of a business when you still have the option to change? You still have customers, there’s access to capital, your employees are around. Instead of waiting for the inevitable, why not pivot to a new business? The technology firm that radically humanizes its approach. New inventory for the store. A new way to serve people.

Change is hard, painful and there will be fear. Much better than death by a thousand cuts.