3 Business Survival and Growth Lessons from Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin first published his “On the Origin of Species” ground breaking scientific book in 1859.   When first published, it caused a considerable amount of controversy despite being a masterpiece of skilled observation, elegant reasoning and sound logic. Darwin’s findings changed the world of biology and natural science forever.

As business owners we all can learn something from his observations to survive and prosper, by fighting, specialising and adapting.


One of his shocking observations and inferences was that the natural world was not a predictable world of order and beauty, but a chaotic one in which every individual animal and plant is locked in a constant fight to survive and propagate.

The same will be true of your business, as you cannot expect any help or mercy from your competitors.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world and you will have to assert yourself if you’re going to come out on top – you should use all the skills and expertise at your disposal in order to survive and prosper. 


Darwin noticed that the little finches of the isolated Galapagos, originating from the same genus as finches found elsewhere had developed beaks that differed as the food sources on individual islands dictated.  These specialised tools allowed the finches to exploit natural resources that would otherwise have been cut off to them. His studies convinced him that variation arose constantly and not just in response to changed circumstances.

Your business should learn to specialise in some degree, by exploiting gaps in the market that others have left unexplored. If you become unique and different, you will have less competition for customers, helping your business to become successful


Darwin proposed that the species that was best suited for long-term survival and widespread propagation were those most likely than others to adapt. Animals that were quick to adapt to changes in their environment, in food sources and in their predators, these are the ones with the characteristics necessary to survive.

This is also true of your business.  If your products, services and business practices are too rigid and prescribed, you are very likely to become extinct. Instead, you need to be capable of reacting to changing trends in your industry, the general marketplace, your customer base and shifts in the national and global economy. Do some research to uncover these change yourself, falling sales for specific products or services is a great starting point.

Adaptation is the key to success for small businesses. The business climate and competition are forever changing and if you can’t adjust you will go out of business. Changes in market conditions could also happen faster than we expect, so it is important for businesses to stay up to date with their industry’s development.

CMC has put together a number of case studies showing how we helped business owners to grow, adapt in their marketplace – and ultimately prosper. Examples are available here.

Other business survival blogs from Phil McConnell.

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