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Adapt or Parish

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Juicy Fruit®, Doublemint®, Spearment® ring a bell? We’ve all chewed them. Wrigley’s gums are a part of almost everybody’s childhood. And the story of William Wrigley Jr is nothing short of inspiring.

What budding entrepreneur hasn’t been bored at school? Expelled at a tender age, Wrigley Jr went to work in his father’s soap factory. But with a flare for sales, it wasn’t too long before Wrigley Jr went out on his own, starting his own company selling soap. With a stroke of entrepreneurial genius, he did something different to dad and added a bonus freebie of baking powder to every sale. And sales boomed. But once he realised the baking powder was more popular than the soap, he switched to selling baking powder with a different freebie thrown in. You guessed it. A stick of gum with every sale. Very soon he noticed the gum sales out did the baking powder and so he switched track again to producing his own line of gums.

The thing is Wrigley Jr never started out selling gum. But as he saw new opportunities he grabbed them. Through times of economic depression and war, Wrigley continued to adapt and reinvent his products. Taking calculated risks with marketing while his competitors pulled in the belt. And they paid off. Where other company’s sales dropped, Wrigley’s thrived.

Adaptable and tuned in to the wants of his market Wrigley Jr’s success as an entrepreneur means that his gums are still available today. Over 120 years later.

Adapt or perish. And it’s as true in business as it is in other areas of life. Wrigley Jr was a genius at it. Kodak stuffed it. And Australia Post – well time will tell. The thing is as times change, new markets open and old markets close, technology jumps ahead at lightening speed and the traditional ways of doing business become a thing of the past, we must adapt in order to survive. I’ve heard it said it’s like turning a big ship around. First you’ve got to be looking ahead and see the need. Then you’ve got to take action. Then you’ve got to be patient while it all comes together. Sometimes easier said than done.

One thing is for sure. Change happens. And there will always be upturns and downturns.

Will your business survive?

How can you adapt and thrive?