The business environment around us is constantly changing. Successful organizations have to learn to adapt or face the prospect of their competitors ‘eating’ into their market share. The ability to navigate ‘new waters’ is important to all entrepreneurs – whether you are a sole trader or have 1,000 employees! In today’s article, Adeyinka shares steps aspiring entrepreneurs can utilise to ensure their businesses succeed in spite of a changing internal and external environment.

Let’s take a look at Burger King. Once ranked number two on the list of top fast food chains, it now finds itself number 5 in the top 15, according to Business Insider. In 2012, the top 15 fast food chains ranked in the nation had a combined $115 billion in sales. It may sound like this is a good thing for Burger King with sales of $8.4 billion and 7,231 locations right? The fact is that they are losing market share to Wendy’s, Starbucks and Subway which is reason for concern. Additionally, Burger King have Taco Bell in the number 6 spot nipping at their heels. So what has Burger King done?  They are now one of the first fast food chains to come to market with turkey & veggie burgers – tapping into the health conscious and vegetarian consumer market. Like Burger King, every business, whether large or small needs to be able to recognize when it’s time to shake things up.

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Dr Leon C. Meggison misquoting Charles Darwin

Businesses can’t survive off of doing things the way they have always done it. The market and consumers always demand more. You have to look beyond the surface issues of your organization and drill down to what your true ‘pain’ is? What challenges are at the core of your business? Recently, I met with a client who felt that marketing was his biggest challenge. ‘If only I had more money to spend on marketing, the company could really take off.’ As I began asking questions that got to the core of his business processes and procedures as well as the quality of service and team members , we unearthed the challenges that were at the heart of his organisation’s needs. Padding marketing while not addressing the main issues your business faces may lead to failure in meeting your business goals. While marketing was one challenge, it certainly was not paramount. So what can you do? Like Burger King we can all implement and execute business strategies that address your fundamental challenges. Here are some tips on how to do this.

Diagnose: Gather the team and have an open dialogue about business challenges throughout the organization. You may need to enlist all levels of employees and not just the leadership team. If you are a smaller organization or working solo you will need to ensure you engage in this activity with your ‘eyes wide open.’ Be prepared to put the best and worst aspects about the organization on paper so you can get past your surface issues to find the root causes of your organization’s pain.

Plan: Now that you have identified your core issues, it is time to create your plan of action. Who do you need to tackle the plan? Do you have the internal resources? Will you need to get external experts? Your plan is only as good as the people who will implement and execute so make sure you have identified the competences necessary to make your plan a success and assemble your power team.

Execute: Good plans go no further than the piece of paper you put them on if there is no execution. Identify who is responsible for specific areas of the main plan and check in with the team often. Goals must be measurable to ensure you are reaching the desired results. Be nimble enough to identify when the plan needs to be tweaked to meet the changing demands of the market and the customer. While it is too early to say if Burger King’s new strategy will propel them forward on the list of top fast food chains, I do believe that its plan will shake up the fast food industry and other chains will follow suit.

Do not be afraid to shake up your business model and do things differently. When your decisions are backed by market analysis and expert advice you will be able to reach your goals. There is no one size fits all solution no matter what industry you are in so invest in studying the internal and external environment of your business and putting a strategy in place to ensure your business succeeds.

Image - Adeyinka Ojo
Image – Adeyinka Ojo

About our writer –  Adeyinka Ojo is an experienced Business Consultant with more than 5 years of experience in the development and implementation of business strategies and change initiatives for small and large corporations. After completing his undergraduate degree at Bowen University, Nigeria, Adeyinka Ojo obtained a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Ladoke Akintola University, Nigeria.

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