Harry Hayman – I’ve worked hard my entire life to make my name synonymous with my ideals: hard work, innovation, and growth. If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it’s that as humans we need to constantly be adapting. I’ve never been one to sit around and let life happen to me, and I won’t start now. 

For me, life and business are very much intertwined. Looking back on all of my jobs and business ventures, I can see that the circumstances of my adolescence led me down the paths I have taken both professionally and personally.

With the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses everywhere are struggling to stay afloat, to stay relevant, and to survive. As someone who has had to keep changing and growing throughout my life, I know a thing or two about what it takes to adapt. Keeping that in mind, I have put together a few tips for business owners trying to adapt to this new business environment that I have combined through my own experiences and research. 

1. Be Open to Feedback

One of the worst things we can do in business is to be so stubborn that we don’t recognize the importance of our customer’s opinions. Your motivation, your hard work, and your product mean very little if you don’t have a client base willing to eat at your restaurant, use your product, or pay for your service. And people are not gonna do these things if there are issues with your business practices. 

Feedback is essential in creating an adaptable business because hearing the strengths and weaknesses of your business directly from your customer base is an invaluable tool. By creating feedback outlets for your customers, you give yourself the ability to emphasize the strengths of your business and to change the aspects of your business that aren’t so successful. 

2. Be Accountable

In the past 30+ years, I have worked in just about every restaurant job you can think of all the way from dishwasher to owner. Anyone who has worked in food service will tell you that restaurant industry work is not for the faint of heart – you need thick skin to survive in a restaurant. My experience has been that restaurants are one of the most confrontational, difficult, and abusive environments imaginable. But the one lesson restaurant work teaches you more than any other is the meaning of accountability. 

A well-functioning restaurant runs like a machine. Every employee has their individual job to do to keep the machine running smoothly. If one piece stops working, the entire machine falls apart. Accountability in business works like this, too. To have a business capable of being adaptable, the company must foster a culture of trusting each other to get a job done and to get it done well.

3. Recognize the Needs of Your Clients

The Coronavirus changed just about every aspect of daily life. As everyone’s daily routines completely changed, so did the role of businesses for their communities. 

Rather than close up shop and wait it out, the companies that are thriving right now took their customer’s needs into account. When there was a shortage on hand sanitizer, liquor distilleries turned a percentage of their production from alcoholic beverages to hand sanitizer. Likewise, when restaurants weren’t allowed to seat and serve patrons anymore, they redoubled their efforts into takeout and delivery. Restaurants that had never previously offered takeout and delivery became accessible to more people by changing their business practices to suit the needs of their customers. 

These are perfect examples of adaptability in business. Because of the ever-changing global health situation, the needs of clients have changed and businesses face a choice: either change with those needs or prepare to be left behind. 

4. Prepare for the Future But Focus on the Present

There are some things you can plan for, and some you really can’t. I never planned on losing my brother so young or having to watch my sister suffer through cancer. I don’t think any of us anticipated the Coronavirus shutting life down as much and as long as it has. 

But the true marker of being adaptable isn’t being able to predict what’s coming your way. It is the ability to prepare yourself and your business for any outcome and know you will be okay. Companies have died and thrived based on their abilities to plan ahead for future needs and demands. 

That being said, a business cannot succeed without being focused on their present situation. Getting too far ahead in the future allows very little room for when something goes wrong. In the case of the Coronavirus, everything changed drastically socially and economically in such a short period of time. The businesses holding an ear to the ground were the ones in the best position to adapt to the situation, while businesses looking too far into the future were left scrambling to adapt. 

5. Welcome Failure

Everyone has been told at one time or another that “Failure is a part of life,” but failure has such a negative connotation. And yes, while failing is never pleasant, it is a reminder that you tried and put your best into your business. While something may have gone wrong be it circumstance or missteps, failure can still be a positive thing. 

There is a monumental difference between accepting failure and welcoming failure. Accepting failure is a sign of defeat. Forbes magazine describes it by saying “To accept failure is to forego progress, to give up, to quit. To welcome failure, however, is to acknowledge the temporary state that exists and see the interim as a stepping-stone toward greater learning.” Essentially, acceptance of failure is an excuse to stop trying to improve, while welcoming failure denotes progress of trial-by-error. So you failed this time, that just means you have to continue trying until you find the key to your success. 

Failure can be scary, disheartening, and can make you want to quit. But failure can also be the catalyst that sends a business to unimaginable heights. 

Final Notes

The Coronavirus has not been easy on anyone, least of all business owners struggling to keep themselves afloat. Adaptability is an essential part of running a successful business. If this Coronavirus pandemic has taught you one thing, let it be that things can change in a heartbeat, business models are thrown out of the window, and you can find yourself needing to change alongside the world. Now more than ever, you need to be adaptable. 

Charles Darwin, the scientist behind modern evolutionary theory, is quoted as saying “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” 

This is just as relevant in business as it is in nature. Those most able and most willing to change and grow as the world does will be the ones best suited to not only surviving a crisis but to succeed in any environment. 

On Memorial Day, we remember those who fought for our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States. I am grateful for their commitment and bravery as well as that of current and former service members, who fought bravely and had to adapt to life and death situations that I can only imagine. Thank you for your service. 

About Harry Hayman

Harry Hayman is a hospitality management specialist in Philadelphia and a prominent figure known for his many business ventures and charitable causes. Harry first made a name for himself in the restaurant and hospitality industries, with an impressive resume of ventures that includes the Bynum HOSPITALITY Group, Gemini Hospitality Consultants, EAST COAST SALOONS & RENEGADE TACOS. Harry Hayman currently participates in numerous forms of community involvement, including his frequent speaking engagements, the Feed Philly Coalition and The Philadelphia Jazz Experience, which he founded and created.