Adaptability and Flexibility Competency – The Lifeblood of the Entrepreneur?

Developing strategy for building a business in the VUCA world

If you have a traditional approach to business, you’ll be developing your business strategy wrong. Your approach will be based on a market that is stable. 2020 has highlighted that this is not the case. The world of business is unpredictable. To survive and thrive, you must develop your adaptability and flexibility competency.

Instability is not new

Market instability is not new. It even has a name, denoted by an acronym from the description of volatile, unpredictable, constant, and ambiguous. You’ll need to lead your business through this VUCA world.

What’s causing such unpredictability? It would be easy to say coronavirus, but this isn’t true. The pandemic is the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface lies a myriad of change, such as:

  • Technology

  • Regulations

  • Globalization

  • Climate change

  • Greater mobility

  • Greater access to information

Yet you’ve strategized for a stable world

You want to be competitive in your market, and you want to develop longevity. So, you plan to build an enduring business model based upon your niche, what you know, and what you do well. You may review your offer occasionally, but largely your direction is a constant course.

If you operate your business this way, by the time you bring your product or service to market,  your clients’ needs have shifted and you’re left with a pocketful of costs and a whole lot of egg on your face.

Adaptability and flexibility for rapid change and growth

Rapid change means that your five-year growth strategy needs to be thrown out. Boy, even a one-year strategy could be defunct in a few months. To lead your market, traditional analysis is nine parts of useless in an unpredictable environment.

What’s the answer, then?

Competency in adaptability and flexibility is key. That means an insane ability to learn new things. You need to be unsettled to be sustainable. As an entrepreneur, this is probably in your blood. As Ken says in our Black Diamond podcast ‘Defining the entrepreneur’:

“An entrepreneur does not operate well in the status quo. We’re always looking to shift things up. Yet we build businesses to achieve the ability to run on their own.”

Be good at learning new things, and make sure your team are, too.

Tactics to help you improve your adaptability and flexibility

Your entrepreneurial spirit and the relative size of your business should make it easier to adapt quickly. You’re not a tanker that takes three miles to grind to a halt. Here are a few tactics that should help you to become more flexible and adapt rapidly as needed.

  • Get good at reading the signals

Red lights tell you when to stop, and green tell you when to put your foot on the accelerator. Get better at reading these signals. Watch what the traffic is doing around you. Note the pedestrians on the sidewalk – are they nervous about stepping off the pavement? Is there a traffic cop ready to direct?

There’s a mass of information around you. Take it in. Absorb it constantly, just as you do when driving.

  • Read and listen more

What’s going on in your market? What’s the news that might affect how people are feeling and what they will be doing? Read more, and learn to spot trends and red flags.

Listen to the people who make the decisions – your clients. What are their buying patterns telling you? How can you respond? There’s a lot of data available to you, but it won’t present itself like a little lap dog. You must seek it out, and, when you find it, take notice of it.

  • Take risks

Sometimes the signals are broken or shrouded in mist. You can’t forecast what is likely to happen. When this is the case, the only way forward is to take a risk. Test new approaches, products, and services.

Traditional information gathering can be time-consuming and expensive, and often leads to outdated strategies. You’ll find that you must fail fast to succeed. Use technology, your network, and your clients to drive cost-effective, successful innovation at speed.

  • Create a web of activity

You are no longer limited to your immediate vicinity to build your business. The talent you need to progress can be found by adopting innovative practices that have helped to reduce the gap between the capability of you and the world’s largest companies. Think:

  • Outsourcing

  • Offshoring

  • Peer production

  • Virtual and remote teams

  • The gig economy

If you can create a strategy that pulls all the pieces together, so that they fit perfectly, you can compete with anyone in any market.

  • Mobilize your network

Build an intentional network to bullet proof your business. Systemize your approach by helping people first. The world is a small place, and information flows freely – make sure it is flowing to you from a network that wants to help you right back.

  • Be a maverick

You can lead your market. You won’t do that by following the crowd. Instead, take advantage of your ability to be flexible. Be disruptive. Offer something new, different, and unique. Let your personal values generate your unique selling point, and deliver to clients who align with you and will become your brand advocates.

Be more aware of your competitive advantage. If all you offer is what others offer, then your only competitive advantage is your price – and you don’t want to be in a race to the bottom.

Have you got what it takes to be adaptable and flexible?

Adaptability and flexibility. Do you have it? Are you an experimentalist, with good instinct based upon observation and an uncanny desire to learn? What about your network – is it kick-start ready to help you face any challenge thrown at you? If you have a traditional approach to business, you’ll be developing your business strategy wrong. To survive and thrive, you must be adaptable to flex to new market demands.

Get in touch with us. We’ll help you identify the maverick in you, and help you harness the power of your adaptability and flexibility to drive the success and lifestyle you deserve.


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