The business world is harsh and unforgiving. You’ve seen the statistic that 90 percent of startups are bound to fail within the five years. Is that because these are bad business ideas?
Not all of them. When a good business idea fails it’s usually because the founders were unable to fit into the market environment. I’ve concluded there are three things you need to know about adapting to the world of business.
Cut it out if it fails.
I wrote about a controversial problem my students have when they trade. The main problem is that people are rigid. They see a stock fall and they insist on waiting in the vain hoping that it’s going to come back up again. From experience, I know that this almost never works. You need firm criteria for when to cut and run.
For example, the firm Swiss Space Systems recently declared bankruptcy due to financial difficulties. They attempted to create low-cost, reusable satellite launchers. The industry didn’t want it and the industry was opposed to it.
When everyone is screaming at you that your product isn’t working, you shouldn’t keep persisting. When something is failing you don’t keep pouring money into it. Adaptability means you have to cut out the things that aren’t working.
Don’t get married to one product.
Most entrepreneurs have failed at some point in their history. I know I have made many bad business decisions. What I’ve learned is that to adapt you need to be able to switch from one product to another. Don’t become tied to one product.
Do you remember Pets.com from the 1990s? The business idea was simple. It was Amazon for pets but the idea was ahead of its time. When it didn’t catch on they had nowhere to go because they were married to a single idea and a single function. Like many other dot-com businesses, Pets.com was a failure.
It goes back to the previous point. If something isn’t working, you should cut it out. And in this case I’m an advocate of saying that it could be the entire business, if necessary.
Adapt and keep adapting.
The art of adaptation is to keep adapting until you succeed. Broaden yourself to new ideas continuously. My student, Roland, once had a conflict with his father, who was a valued investor. But, Roland broadened his horizons with my more short-term trading approach, and he turned four figures into six figures in a year.
Take Thomas Edison as another example. He held more than 1000 patents in his lifetime. (many of which were failures). Elon Musk is another such entrepreneur. He has gone into everything from finance, to the auto industry, to space. Adaptation means persistence on a broader scale. It doesn’t mean banging your head against a wall expecting a different result.
Last word: Succeeding in business
Business is about adaptation because you never know what’s around the corner. Adaptation isn’t an easy process by any means, but it’s key in any business and must be learned in order to be successful.