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How To Avoid Economic Darwinism

According to, Charles Darwin proposed the idea that organisms that best adjusted to their environment are the most successful in surviving and reproducing. We refer to that as ‘survival of the fittest.’ His proposal indicates that species aren’t necessarily born fit, but that those able to adjust, adapt, and evolve will win out.

This concept can be explored with the business community as well. Consider Kodak, Blockbuster, and other major retailers that thrived until they didn’t. When they didn’t pay attention to the changes in the environment they failed to adapt.

Small businesses experience this on a painfully high level. There are a number of reasons why small businesses fail. Early on it can be that there really isn’t a market for the product or service. Having enough funding or the right team can also impact the viability of a start up.

At the same time, many small businesses fail because the leadership doesn’t pay attention to changes in market behavior, customer needs, and economic changes.

And then there are crisis situations like the pandemic. Some businesses were not able to survive the impact of the pandemic because the impact was too sudden and severe. As with nature, some species become extinct.

However, there are plenty that could pivot, create, modify, or explore new markets. Those are the ones that have choices and are susceptible to Economic Darwinism. Yes, it takes work and potentially learning new skills. It definitely requires being able to look at your business from a different perspective. And that can be difficult.

The truth is survival can be difficult. I submit it requires a willingness to explore doing things in a new way. It requires getting out of the ‘this is the way we’ve always done things’ mindset and embracing a possibilities mindset. That is the job of a leader. Marshall Goldsmith famously said, “What got you here won’t get you there.” It’s even the title of his book.

This concept is so true right now, in this time of massive disruption to the economic environment. Wondering what steps to take? Start with outreach. Contact current and past clients. Reach out to your business community. Find out what they need, what they’re struggling with, what has changed. Think deeply about the value your product or service provides. What is the result your customers gain? Use all of this information to evaluate your offering. Are there new markets that have arisen from the pandemic? Are there modifications you can make to your product or service that will open up new markets? Do past prospects need you now?

Pay attention to the changes in the business ecosystem. Explore adaptations and adjustments. And don’t be afraid of evolving to meet new challenges. That’s what is essential to remaining relevant and growing.

So, what will you do? Will you succumb to Economic Darwinism or will you adapt and evolve?

©2020 Helbig Enterprises


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