Reflections on competition and the survival of the fittest from my holiday and how what happens in the African bush reflects what happens in business.
Why I Found Myself Thinking About Competition And How Only The Fit Survive
I am just back from my safari holiday in South Africa and Botswana and while I tool my mp3 player loaded with Jay Abraham, Peter Thomson and Brian Tracy recordings, I didn't even turn it on and I just read a couple of chapters of a marketing book I took away.
Margaret and I had a great time despite the 5:30 am wake-up calls and saw many animals and birds including six new species of mammals which was great considering this was our sixth safari based holiday.
But I don't think that anything brings home to the nature of competition to you more effectively than seeing the animals in their natural habits.
The Difficult Life of A Male Impala
For the impala, it is the rutting season which is highly stressful for the males. Yes when they get to the top of the pile, they get to have their wicked way with lots of impala girls but between keeping the ladies happy and keeping other males away from their mates, they don't have the time to eat.
The result is that they quickly lose their strength and are knocked off their perch by another male impala who has been conserving energy.
Now our first male impala is banished from the protection of the herd and slinks off into the bush to recover. Outside of the rutting season, the males form bachelor herds for their own protection. Twenty eyes looking in every direction are better than just two but in the rutting season, they are on their own.
They need to do two things desperately - eat and sleep - but both activities put them at risk of becoming food for the hungry lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas.
Their very success in rising to the top and claiming their rewards has put them in mortal danger and strangely it can be like that in business as well.
Often the seeds of failure are sowed from continuing a successful strategy too long. A business can feel it has become invincible and that opens the door to complacency. When you are successful, you become the target for others.
The Fight For Food
It's late autumn in the Southern hemisphere and in the reserve in Botswana, it's now four months since the last rains and the grass is short and parched. Rivers running through the reserve are mainly dried up but the next rains won't come until late September or October so in the next four months, it is going to become much more difficult to find the food and water the animals need to survive.
It becomes an issue of eating what you can find and hoping that you have built up enough reserves of fat to last you through the lean times.
Applying The Survival Of The Fittest To Business
This made me think about businesses who are facing the difficult times from the expected recession. New revenues will be more difficult to find as businesses compete for the lower disposable income of customers.
So have you built up enough resources to help your business survive the tough times ahead?
Or do you need to start implementing survival strategies urgently?
In the good times, the elephant herds can be large because the bush can support them but as conditions get tougher, the herds start fragmenting into smaller and smaller groups and spread out.
So have you identified your core markets and customers who can help you to survive the recession?
It Is The Survival Of The Fittest
Whether it is in the African bush or in business, competition is a question of who is the strongest and fittest.
If you haven't started your fitness program you, then I urge you to start.