I recently read an excellent blog entry called Failing Cheaper, which discussed, among other things, the flexibility required by new ventures and the decreased amount of capital it now takes to launch a venture.
The entry begins by pointing out that some prominent recent ventures started out doing very different things. For instance, PayPal started out as a service to beam money through Palm Pilots. Likewise YouTube was originally a video dating site.
There are countless other successful companies, not just newer ones, that fall into this category. For example, when Adobe Systems was founded in December 1982, it focused on developing digital fonts.
The key point here is that good entrepreneurs recognize the need for flexibility and build teams that can "quickly respond to early market information in order to identify a real business model and minimize risk."
The second key point of the article is that you can now "fail faster and cheaper than ever before." Obviously no one wants to fail, but if you are going to fail, it is mitigated by the ability to do this more quickly and with lower capital losses.
The key reasons for this shift, according to the author, include decreasing storage costs, open-source software, and offshore development. The author was specifically referring to software companies, but these changes can apply to other industries as well.
Another shift which allows companies to fail (or succeed) more quickly and less expensively is clearly the Internet, which allows companies to quickly and cost effectively get their product and/or service in front of a large audience and gauge their interest.
Whatever your business, you should be leveraging these market shifts to enable your company to launch more quickly and cost effectively than was previously possible.