Adapt, Improvise, Overcome…or Perish

Chameleon on a tree branch. Latin Business Today

Four small business tips on what you need to do to survive and flourish.

In a new installment of the Unemployable Millionaire Series for Entrepreneurs, I offer tips on what you need to do to survive and flourish.

While the title of this piece may sound harsh, it applies perfectly to the ever-evolving world of entrepreneurship. Those of us who work for ourselves, or those who would like to, have come to realize that change is inevitable and it happens at a blindingly fast pace.

Instead of getting stuck in your ways, here are a few small actions you can take to bust out of your norm:


The first step is to become acutely aware of the situation you are in and decide if you want to adapt to the circumstances presented to you. For me, it was recognizing that working for other recording artists, no matter how famous, and watching them make all the royalties, was a dead-end road. I did a lot of the work to help with their final+ result and they profited from it.

Professionally speaking, this simply didn’t work for me anymore and I reached a point where a change had to be made, no matter how challenging. It was a sobering thing to become aware of, but it led me down the path of focusing solely on TV composing where I owned the content and would make my own royalties. Creatively and businesswise, I controlled the entire process and, years later, this has resulted in me having music on over 1,000 TV series. This clearly took time, but I had to first recognize what wasn’t working and then decide to adapt to a new way of doing things that utilized all my skillsets.


For those of you who are musicians, this may come naturally. You’re presented with a structure, and within that you make up the notes, chords or rhythms that fit within those parameters. When it comes to business, this can and should take place on a daily basis. Having said that, it can literally be hour to hour or even minute to minute.  You sometimes have to make decisions and changes on the spot. If you’ve decided to adapt to a new circumstance, improvising within that is critical.

The smaller the business, the easier this step is, especially if you are the top dog. Regardless, do not become stuck in your circumstances. Be open and comfortable to the idea of change at this very instant. If A isn’t working, then go to plan B. If B is not working, make up plan C right on the spot. Improvising becomes easier with experience, and success will breed confidence that the adaptations have, indeed, worked.


We all hit roadblocks. Even if you adapt and improvise, your new approach still may not work immediately. This is where persistence, persistence and even more persistence pays off. If you have conviction in your ideas or your business, stick with the program!

In one of my favorite books, The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy Seal Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksman, author Brandon Webb aptly notes “I’m here, my targets there—what factors are affecting my getting from here to there?” If you think of your problem with that in mind, you can take stock of the issues preventing you from having a clear shot at victory. You have to overcome whatever obstacle is in your way and if you can’t get through it, you have to go around it. Webb also notes, “You can’t always have the ideal circumstances or even reasonably helpful circumstances. You have to be ready to perform at the very top of your abilities, instantly and without preparation under the very worst of circumstances. And you have to do it over and over again.” That is how you overcome a situation, by attacking it endlessly with every ounce of professional ability you have until the goal is reached.


This is certainly the most metaphorical part of the entire concept, but it rings true in many situations. If you don’t learn to adapt, improvise and overcome, then there’s a good chance that your business won’t make it.

To prevent this from happening, take realistic stock of your current situation. Not how you want it to look but how it really is. This part can be challenging and potentially painful. But it must be done with an open mind. Then, once you’ve made the assessment, you can keep what works and discard what doesn’t.

Adapt to the new changes and be flexible enough to improvise at a moment’s notice for the overall good of the cause. Overcome the inevitable obstacles with tenacity and persistence. By taking these steps on a continual basis you can propel your business forward and continue to succeed.

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