“Not the strongest species survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most adaptable.” ~ Darwin.

Based on Darwin’s words, it seems that the species that survive over time are neither the strongest nor the most intelligent, but those which have the greatest capacity to adapt to change.

Translated into business terms, this implies that the companies that operate successfully in a volatile business environment are those who have the greatest capacity to adapt to change, those that have the ability to respond quickly and effectively in a new environment. To achieve this high level of flexibility, companies must continuously define and refine their business model.  It is interesting to note that although business cycles are a normal part of life, many businesses are woefully unprepared for these shocks and will pay the ultimate price in the months and years ahead.

Here are a few simple tips that will allow small and medium businesses to survive during difficult turbulent times:

  1. Create alternative sources of income– Create product enhancements, develop sub products and services that will allow you to sell additional products or services into your current client base. Expand your market presence into current and new areas, while your competitors may be pulling back.
  2. Keep your costs low- spend less on everything– The drastic reduction of costs must be made based on a clear analysis of the effects generated by each cutting. Although downsizing may be necessary, as well as other reductions, these measures should be accompanied by actions that lead to increased efficiency.
  3. Look after your current customers– Ensure you understand and focus on your target market. Consider adopting systems based on lean thinking principles which enable low-cost, innovative and fast ways to deliver value to your customers.
  4. Don’t stop marketing your business– find innovative ways of marketing your business. In conditions of recession, business performance is variable, a specific strategy cannot guarantee survival or success.
  5. Stay relevant in this rapidly changing world. It’s easy to be so engrossed in survival that you lose sight of innovation. Markets, technologies, customers, and competition are changing with such speed that no one can guarantee that the profit gained today will ensure success tomorrow.

In conclusion, organisations should become agile. Agility is becoming the latest business buzzword. With turbulence and uncertainty becoming an integral part of the new normal, companies need to hone their abilities to respond quickly to change.

Agility is defined as the ability of an organisation to respond quickly to change. Although the word ‘adaptability’ is used often in business contexts, the word ‘adapt’ suggests change that lacks speed—Darwinian adaptation happens over millennia— we prefer the term ‘agility.’ Typically organisations develop agility by introducing flexibility into their organisational structures and business processes through technology, and also by creating alternative, back-up resources.