Nature is abundant with examples of symbiotic relationships that mutually benefit organisms of different species. Ants protect aphids, bees pollinate flowering plants and birds help to pest control cattle and other mammals, all of which are getting nourishment out of their hard work. Our favourite relationship is the mutualism enjoyed by the Goby Fish and Pistol Shrimp, living in the Indo-Pacific, for its similarities within the SMEs environment.
Their relationship is mutual and both organisms benefit. The shrimp burrows into the sand and builds a home for the Goby fish which watches out for predators. At a sign of danger, the Goby fish warns his almost blind housekeeper, so the Shrimp doesn’t get eaten. The Shrimp can expect predators while the Goby fish has gained a place to live. This relationship for survival can be observed within a vast, complex and thriving marine ecosystem full of its unique set of dangers.
Similar relationships exist within the Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) ecosystem.
Consider a small business with one business owner (the Shrimp). The business owner has created a stronghold in the UAE sand capable of housing a Key employee (the Goby). The business prospers within its own ecosystem (Technology, Trading, Service Industry, etc). The business owner and employee share a symbiotic relationship where both benefit, but then:
What happens if the Goby is eaten?
As a business owner this could prove a useful question to ask occasionally, and then consider the following:
Can your business survive without your key people? What happens if they are diagnosed with a critical illness, become disable or suffers a sudden death? How will their loss impact the profitability of your business? How much will it cost to find a suitable replacement? How long will it take to rebuild lost relationships? Do you have a succession plan for such circumstances? Can you put a business protection insurance in place that covers the risk of your Goby being eaten?
The word Symbiosis is derived from Greek, βίωσις “living” and σύν “together”. The fact is that 67% of single owned businesses in the region are unable to stay “together” if the Key person is no longer “living” or to put this another way, a business is unable to continue “living” if the Shrimp and the Goby are no longer together.
With this in mind, SMEs business owners should consider insuring their key people against illness, disability or death so that the business can survive, remain competitive and financially sustainable with the unexpected happens.