Adapt or die

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SW LONDON — There’s a video shop across from my bus stop.  Or there used to be.  Now it’s a specialty ski boot shop.  Obviously.

There are now cafés where there used to be off-licences… and estate agents and phone shops on every high street.

It’s the natural evolution of business.  Old businesses pass away and new ones come in to their places.

The old characters selling the Evening Standard have gone to the big horse track in the sky.  But life goes on.

The world changes and you adapt.

Or you fall by the wayside.

There’s no knowing if you’ve made it until you cash in your chips, but the Able and How experience has certainly been salutory.

There are things we didn’t plan appropriately for:
• recession
• ‘start-up’ staff vs corporate staff
• a few clients who pay ‘whenever’, or not at all
• legal entanglements
• expensive business advisors

And then there are things we planned for that we couldn’t possibly have imagined would be as good as they have turned out to be:
• focusing on clients and businesses
• making our colleagues the centre of the business
• being green
• watching the bank balance every day
• staying velcro close to our friends in industry

I would be mad to say that we have figured it out.  So please don’t think I’m saying ‘look at what we did well’.  We’re just as likely to be the next Polaroid or Concord as anyone else.

When I worked in politics there was an old political expression: You gotta dance with the one what brung you.

In the case of businesses these days, you need to be prepared to dance with the one that’s there.


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