Embrace Natural Selection

Embrace Natural Selection

Business success mimics evolution. Cavemen, for instance, had to be efficient when they hunted for mates or food in order to preserve their genetic code through survival and reproduction. Indeed, self-preservation is the very essence of life.

The life expectancy for cavemen was around thirty years. If they were not effective at hunting, they would not be strong enough to fight their competitors for food and mates and would become extinct. Therefore, efficiency is a matter of survival. It may not be pretty, but natural selection works the same way in business as it does in nature, like it or not.

The act of successful customer prospecting, which is fundamental to business success, is predicated on business “promiscuity,” which perfectly imitates mammalian promiscuity. You have to be willing to expose yourself continuously and risk rejection more than competitors to ultimately gain acceptance and reach your goals, whether it be a completed transaction or its biological counterpart, intercourse.

Video game competition is a modern example of natural selection. Gaming teaches kids hand-eye coordination and helps with their concentration, which are skills that can be used later in life for war, sports, hunting, and the like.

Interest in survival training is built into our genetic code in order to help us compete and evolve. Presumably, there are some rewards for being the best gamer, as there are for being the best caveman hunter, or possibly the best businessperson. In any case, they all follow the same basic precepts of natural selection and self-preservation, which is similar to Darwin’s initial explanation in his classic work, The Origin of Species—a book that should be studied by all serious businesspeople.

Work and business are essentially competitions for market share. Granted, it may be a friendly competition at times, but ultimately, you are going head-to-head against others who want the same customers as you.

If you become operationally superior to your competitors, before long you will show that you have surpassed a break-even point. From here, you can endeavor to prove to the marketplace that your products are relatively better than your larger competitors’ products.

At the next level, you will be as profitable as your competition on a marginal basis, and you can also achieve the same raw profits if you have created even higher margins due to super efficiency, sometimes even with lower overall revenues.

As illustrated, you are striving to be on par with the best profit producers after which you can continue your assault by operating ever more efficiently. This will result in higher profits for you per transaction and customer, and you could therefore make equal profits even with lower overall sales. Completing your tasks faster and being more aggressive will ultimately result in an enhanced evolutionary state for your firm at the expense of your competitors.

Even though you are trying to metaphorically “kill” your competitors, their ability to compete is merely what you need to destroy. You want to be an efficient and effective “hunter” to survive at the top of the food chain. Your weapon can be an endless stream of advantageous transactions.

Obviously, nobody wants any personal harm to come to the competition. Yet self-preservation and self-defense to try to kill them financially by “stealing” their market share is fundamental to business.

On the other hand, keep in mind that co-opetition, where companies simultaneously cooperate and compete with others in their industry, is the order of the day for fast moving, modern businesses. So being too abrasive towards your apparent competition could have side effects that prove to be detrimental when it comes time to working together, and it could even hurt your broader reputation.

Remember that he is your opponent or competitor, not a personal enemy. Ultimately, burning bridges can harm your bottom line and your morale. Certainly, be very aggressive in your market but draw the line at unacceptable, anti-competitive, or illegal behavior.

Evolution is the result of a series of mutation tests. You must adapt your processes in a competitive market by creating mutations from the baseline of what currently exists in that market or business. Understand the status quo and force evolutionary mutating processes to expose the methods that will work best for your business and against your competitors.

Small ideas that are tested and adopted serve as new mutations in a small company’s biologic system. Unless there is an ailment, mutations in nature are only permanently adopted and replicated if they are genetic improvements. The more mutations tried, the more opportunity exists to discover which ideas prove to be genetic improvements: i.e., enhancements over the former version of the corporation. As you become more and more advanced, any non-evolving competitors will quickly become obsolete, victims of the process of natural selection.

Not only should you proactively test mutations by your actions, you should also attempt to force them into your thought process in a wide variety of ways to create possible opportunities to separate yourself from the pack. Break out of your comfort zone regularly.

One way to do so is to place yourself in mental or emotional situations that will allow you to view your dilemmas and opportunities under differing “mutated” lights. For example, reconsider an important business situation while on the beach, at the gym, at 3AM, while you are swimming, elated, or upset, in the snow, on vacation, at a concert, in church, in the woods, in an airplane, etc. Whatever ideas and information you believe you have stumbled on during these forced mutation sessions, compare and balance them against each other, as well as against other ideas that are vetted in more sobering settings, like the office.

Hence, the object is to get as many perspectives on your business issues as possible and pursue actual tests on those ideas that appear to be most relevant after the initial process. This method purposely mimics how mutations can arise and how they are advanced in nature.

So as you can see, the new ideas you adopt along the way should be added to your arsenal of Best Practices while replacing old ones where necessary. The wide variety of tests, ideas, and people that you require to succeed is akin to a large genetic pool for natural selection, so you can adopt the strongest characteristics from that pool in order to survive, thrive, and multiply. Those companies that are moving more slowly and not testing enough “DNA” combinations will become extinct, and the leaders will lead.

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