Jill's Thoughts

Adapt to Survive and Grow

In today’s world, some organizations have become so integrated into society; I don’t know what we would do without them. For example, do you shop for everyday items on Amazon? Do you use a google account to share files, access email, watch videos, or sign-in to other services? Do you track your fitness on an Apple Watch or carry one of their products in your pocket? Each of these businesses serves different roles in our lives, with some overlap. But what is similar about each of these businesses? How are they all the same?

Successful companies adapt to survive and grow. 

Do you remember how Amazon started? Amazon started in e-commerce, for books. Back in 1995 Amazon launched its website with the sole purpose of selling books online. No video games. No camping gear. No groceries or household items. No cases for your cell phone. Books. That’s it, just that niche. Today there is almost nothing that can’t be purchased on Amazon, and usually for cheaper than you can find in stores. As an online retailer for books, Amazon had a limited growth arc. So Amazon adapted to survive and grow. 

How about Google? Google was a research project in 1996 from a couple of Ph.D. candidates at Stanford University. Originally called “BackRub,” Google was a search algorithm that checked backlinks to determine the relevance of a linked site. There was no Gmail. No collaborative Google Drive. No Chrome. Just a search engine. Like Amazon, Google knew its growth potential and survival would require it to adapt to the ever-changing market and technology. Today, Google touches nearly every business on the planet in a meaningful way from providing services, ads networks, directions, reviews, and much more. Google adapted to survive and grow.

Let’s talk about Apple. When Apple started in Cupertino, California back in 1976, it was just a couple of dudes building a  computer in a garage. Apple’s goal was to make a computer small enough that the everyday person could have one in their home. Over the years Apple was able to push innovation and creativity in the technology industry, finding their niche with designers and creatives. In the beginning, Apple was all about the computer. Over time, Apple brought us devices like the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The growth, prosperity, and influence Apple has in the world today would not have been possible if they had not seen the need to adapt to changing markets, expand product offerings, and pursue new revenue streams. Apple adapted to survive and grow.

These three examples have resulted in some of the biggest companies in today’s world, but what does this have to do with your small business? Well, let me tell you about mine. I started ANS back in 1995 in my kitchen. Over time, I hired family and friends to help in providing mailing lists for direct mail campaigns. On that solid foundation, I was able to grow the business for a while, but there came the point where further growth was limited. As such, we needed to adapt to survive and grow. We brought our data processing in-house, and developed new data processing services that add value to both our current clientele and prospective clients. My team developed processes that allowed the business to deliver the expanded product line to customers faster than anyone in our industry. I adapted to survive and grow.

Here is the lesson. Everyone needs a starting place. Amazon is not the giant we all know and use today if it didn’t successful start by selling books online. Google doesn’t become integrated into nearly everything we do if not for the development of its search engine. Apple doesn’t live in our pocket and on our wrists if they never expanded from building computers. And ANS would not be the successful company it is today if I hadn’t learned to adapt to changing market conditions, technology, and customer needs. Success as an entrepreneur starts with your initial offering, but survives and grows as you learn to adapt. 

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