Adapt or Perish – What You Need to Do

By at 7 November, 2018, 10:20 pm

H.G. Wells said: “Adapt or perish, now as ever; is nature’s inexplorable imperative.” – As in nature, so too in business.

By Barbara Weltman-

On October 14, 2018, Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after being unable to pay a debt. Sears started business in 1886 (132 years ago).

By using Chapter 11, Sears hopes to reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy, but who knows?

This event tells me that Sears just didn’t adapt well to the era of online sales and new ways of marketing.

It’s a cautionary tale; don’t become the next Sears.

Here are some areas to check to make sure you’re staying up to date.

Your offering

Whether you provide goods or services to the public, be sure you’re offering what your customers want. Tastes change and you may have to change as well.

● Expand your line. Add new products or services to test their desirability.

● Drop unwanted items. If you’re a retailer, when you do year-end inventory, pay attention to what didn’t move off the shelves.

● Offer access to your products mobilely. Whether you have a bricks-and-mortar store or sell online, be sure that customers can reach you mobilely. That’s where the action is today. You may even want to adapt your offering for this purpose (e.g., Talkspace being promoted by world champion swimmer Michael Phelps is an app for therapy).


Needless to say, technology is changing at lightning speed, and you need to keep pace with changes. Even though you are a small business, you can’t afford to lag behind.

● Keep computers and other machinery up to date. It’s estimated that desktop computers need to be replaced every 4 years and laptops even sooner. Other equipment you use may be dated, costing you downtime for repairs and running less efficiently than new models.

● Consider using new technology. Have you given thought to how AI can be implemented in your business?

● Understand blockchain and how it may be useful to you. The ability to use computational contracts using blockchain to generate them isn’t far off.

Company culture

The corporate world isn’t what it used to be. With intergenerational employees, new attitudes are mixing with the old. This can be a positive thing and it will certainly impact your company culture.

● Seek input from employees. Find out what employees like, don’t like, want, or don’t want to help you shape your company culture.

● Stay abreast of law changes. For example, you could be in trouble with the NLRB (even if you’re non-union) if you try to keep employees from discussing their compensation with co-workers (“wage transparency”). Watch for new laws that can impact your company culture.

● Review your policies. Make sure that changes are reflected in your employee handbook.

Final thought

Let me repeat: adapt or perish!

Barbara Weltman is a member of SBE Council’s advisory board, and has been a premier consultant for small businesses of every kind for over twenty years. She’s the founder of Big Ideas for Small Business® and has written numerous books on small business operations, including J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, and The Rational Guide to Building Small Business Credit. Follow Barbara on Twitter  @BarbaraWeltman


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