Growing in and adapting to the new world

by Colin Bell Email

Over the past 20 years businesses have existed in a world of expanding global markets and rapid technological change. Many businesses have achieved growth by riding on the wave created by these markets and innovations. An overreliance on markets however can cause problems, as when the wave loses momentum so does the surfer.

I am not suggesting that such growth has been easily achieved. It has come as a consequence of hard work, entrepreneurialism and clever positioning. I do however suggest that in today's environment, growth of this nature is rare and the rules governing growth have fundamentally changed. By riding the high tide many businesses have achieved substantial growth whilst not having a distinctive value proposition - in an environment of shrinking markets and uncertainty, a distinctive and demanded value proposition is critical.

Uncertainty is the new reality and requires business to be in a constant state of adaptation. Businesses must create innovation cultures that 'constantly' anticipate change, innovate and adapt.



This represents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses that possess the vision, skills, attitude, tenacity and propensity to risk (which is amplified in an uncertain climate) required to manage this continuous cycle. Small businesses are accustomed to such circumstances and are much more able to be flexible, to adapt and to innovate. The risk is that a business completes this cycle once, rides the wave and waits for it to lose momentum.

To achieve continuous success, this cycle must be constant and embedded within the organisation's psyche. This can be achieved through developing an innovation culture that is as good at anticipating internal as well as external changes whilst interpreting how and when they will affect the business.

In the future to sustain growth and competitiveness, flexible business models that redefine conventional wisdom of how a business should operate are needed. Growth models are required that react, carry minimal overhead whilst providing high performance and constant innovation.  It is these businesses that will become the BIG businesses of tomorrow, creating the lion's share of jobs and opportunities.