I am thankful for being born into a country of competition. In a free market society like the United States, everyone is continually competing for the rewards that go with being the very best. This applies to all areas including sports, entertainment, non-profit, education and of course, business. The greatest rewards go to the best, the average awards to the average, and no or very little rewards go to the poor performers. One of the reasons I love competition is that the end user benefits greatly. That end user is the spectator for sports and entertainment, the receiver of the non-profit service, and the consumer of the business service or product.
As a business owner, you must continually be striving for a competitive advantage. What are the steps to a competitive advantage? There are many but let me offer three that if implemented will help any business be on the way to achieving that competitive edge.
- As the company leader, adopt a mindset that continually strives to grow both personally and professionally. A company will never grow beyond its leadership. The leader must set the example of growth and development. As a leader, “you have to have a strong desire to excel, you have to believe strongly that you can learn new skills and abilities, and you have to be willing to devote yourself to continuous learning and deliberate practice (Kouzes, Posner, p.121).”
- Assemble a team of competitors. Once the leader sets the example, it’s the team that will make the difference. Look for and hire those people who are up to the challenge, take pride in their work, and reward them for their efforts. In talking about luck as it relates to companies, Jim Collins said, “People lead. People build teams. People build organizations. People build cultures. People exemplify values, pursue purpose, and achieve big hairy audacious goals(Collins, Hansen, p.161).”
- Execute like a champion and keep score. In his study of winning companies, Edward Hess said that these companies have focused strategies. He goes on to say, “few of these companies produce anything unique but they are inspired copiers and imitators. And, the winning companies are execution champions focused on iterative incremental improvements (Hess, p.78, 79).”
A mindset of growth, a team of competitors, and flawless execution will set your company apart in a competitive world.
*Kouze, James, Posner, Barry, (2010), The Truth About Leadership
*Collins, Jim, Hansen, Morten, (2011), Great By Choice
*Hess, Edward, (2010), Smart Growth