My nine-year-old son recently had a Science lesson about the ways in which animals and plants adapt to their environment to survive. His teacher posed a question to the class asking them to name an animal that adapts to its environment and my son excitedly responded with “Human Beings!” Yes. It was one of those proud moments.
My son is absolutely correct and it got me thinking about the past couple years we experienced in business. I run an event management company with my husband and we were recently assessing our performance over the past year. To my husband’s surprise, profitability increased between 2020 and 2021 right in the midst of a global pandemic!
For my cricket lovers out there, we all know that the event management industry took a “hit for six” as we say in Trinidad and Tobago. Social distancing requirements effectively put a halt on our ability to host social events in the way we were used to. The festival events, or Carnival events were probably the most heavily impacted. And that’s exactly where most of our Pre-Covid profit came from! EGAD!!
One of the main reasons businesses exist is to turn in profits. A profitable business is able to keep its doors open and remain in business. A profitable business is able to retain the employees that are dependent upon it for their livelihoods. A profitable business is able to attract new talent and contribute to the employment levels in its area of operation. A profitable business is simply able to do so much more than a loss making one. So what do you so when the unexpected happens? Our adaptability quotient (“AQ”) must kick in to high gear!
In this article, I’m gonna share with you three methods we employed to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment and increase profitability.
Method #1 – Prayer
Prayer is not a word that is often used in the business world, yet it is so critical to success. Several studies have shown throughout the years that many successful entrepreneurs have an active prayer life. In his study, Mitchell J. Neubert and three colleagues at Baylor University conducted research into the connection between faith and entrepreneurship, by examining data from a survey that queried 1,714 U.S. adults about their religious habits. They found that entrepreneurs prayed more frequently than other people and were more likely to believe that God was personally responsive to them. I can openly admit that I have conversations with God all throughout the day; conversations about my children, my marriage, my businesses, my future, my past, my battles and challenges. You name it and I probably spoke to God about it.
Method #2 - Intuition
So now that we’ve had the conversation with God about the matter, do we just sit and wait for a miracle to fall from the sky or do we have to do something? Well unless we believe we were speaking to a brick wall when we prayed, we should expect a response. Enter intuition!
As business owners, it is of utmost importance that we pay attention to our surroundings and act accordingly. Our innate survival instincts should compel action. Imagine you’re sunbathing on the beach and you suddenly see a tsunami coming your way. No one would simply say “Oh look a tsunami” and then layback down to sunbathe. No, you would immediately get up and run as far as possible!
Imbedded in our environment are indicators or signals of impending trouble that we should never ignore. I’ve come to notice over the years that the more we are guided by our intuition and see it work in our favour, the stronger it becomes. In my most difficult times, my intuition has never failed me. I remember first hearing news of the Covid-19 Coronavirus while in New York in December 2019. It immediately struck my attention as the virus’ spread throughout Wuhan China was being increasingly reported. On January 30 2020, the World Health Organization declared the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and we quickly realized that Trinidad and Tobago would not be immune from the effects of this virus. With our intuitive antennae tuned way up for divine guidance every step of the way, we were able to implement an alternative revenue stream under the event management umbrella in May 2020 and we launched another business by October 2020. All initiatives were geared toward assisting those that we knew would be most affected by the pandemic. Are we soothsayers? Absolutely not! Can we tell the future? Hmmm... But paying close attention to our intuition after prayer is paramount to being ready when the inevitable comes.
Method # 3 - Grit
After we resolved to follow our intuition, we then switched gears to execution. There were several obstacles to overcome in order to realize our objectives and there were those moments when we thought that all might be lost. In those moments it was very tempting to simply surrender to emotion and get angry. Get angry at the situation, get angry with ourselves, or even get angry at God for allowing this to happen. But key to the grit factor is stick-to-it-iveness. I can admit that the biggest challenge for me is patience. Through my businesses, I learnt something that I never learnt in any of my MBA classes – I now understand that everything happens in divine timing regardless of whether we want it to or not. I have witnessed fast outcomes (faster than even I had ever imagined) and I have also experienced the slow ones. Yet, we continue to press into the plans we established without fail, without becoming disheartened and without giving up. We simply wake up everyday and face it regardless of what happens and ignoring all negative thoughts that our plans will fail. We have two sons and their presence are daily reminders of why we are in the battle. They heighten our resolve. While we have to be flexible in some of our methods, flexibility is never to the detriment of our overarching goals and objectives. And best of all, the favour of God clears the way when He sees our responsiveness to His guidance!
Let’s admit it – Change is never easy. Yet, it remains the only constant in life. Resistance to change is rooted in fear and it is arguably the most debilitating factor to progress. If we think about it we’ve been experiencing progressive change since birth. We were babies, then became toddlers, then became kids, then became teenagers, then became adults. At each stage, with the right support system in place, it seemed that we naturally adapted to these changes, because we were made to adapt to change. It is key to our growth and to our survival. Yet, some of us have a mistaken belief that growth and adaptation stops when we become adults. I am so convinced now that it absolutely does not. Growth and adaptation is supposed to continue throughout our entire lives, and with the right support system in place, it will seem almost effortless. Life is a winding road, with so many surprises at each turn. Embrace it! Live it! Risk it!