In business, we talk about competitors, competitive posture, competitive analysis, and so on. Yet, there is little training to teach how to be competitive. There are lots of words written about how a business needs to differentiate itself, how it needs to stand out from the crowd, how it cannot do the same thing as everyone else in the industry. Most of the competitiveness in business ends up being a comparison chart of us versus them. But how does a new company really become a champion in its market?
Let’s look at sports. Why? Because it is one of the few places we can look how to compete effectively. Sports is where competition takes center stage and new businesses can learn much from sports. So how do teams and athletes compete?
Coaches, Mentors, and Advisors
Athletes have coaches and they rely upon them heavily. They get regular feedback from their coaches. I was reading the Guerilla Marketing for Coaches book and one of the more interesting comments was how few business professionals see value in coaches. New businesses succeed by attracting advisors and mentors to their company that can help them reach their milestones. It is so much easier and faster to ask someone who has done it before and knows how to accomplish something than to figure it out on your own.
Hard to Define Business Advantages
Much of success in athletics doesn’t have a thing to do with technical aspects of playing the sport. As many elite athletes know, winning or losing isn’t about the obvious. Often, the difference is psychology, how well the athlete can perform under pressure or the athlete’s mindset. Zappos being a successful online shoe retailer wasn’t about the shoes. It wasn’t about the number, type, or color of shoes. There are plenty of shoes stores. It was about those intangible aspects like great customer service. Product features are easiest to copy by competitors. While the warm, fuzzy feeling isn’t. Entrepreneurs should ask themselves what intangible aspects will make a great difference to their customers. They need to think beyond the features and function of their products or beyond the type of shopping cart on their website.
Doing and Experimenting Is the Only Way
Theory can only get one so far, but doing and experience are the real keys to learning anything. In doing, you will fail your way to success. The perfect play can’t be accomplished without practice, changes and refinement. In business we don’t expect to fail, we expect to execute to the desired result. In the business world, failure and practice are synonymous with wasted costs and time. It’s a defect. Process and quality improvement initiatives tell us to strive for zero defects. Process improvement is what large and established do. gayunman, creation and improvement are different processes. Creation implies experimentation – and there is a cost associated with each experiment and experiments fail far more often than they succeed.
Every sport has a team. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team sport or an individual sport. Those that build the best teams win. This means not hiring your friends or hiring a lopsided organization. The team is not just the players; it’s the coaches and fans. Your customers may be used to form a customer advisory board. All the people involved need to make sense to the overall objective and they need to work well together.
The Ultimate Secret to Business Success
A study conducted by Martin Miller of world class athletes showed that these athletes did not have access to any information that the general public could not attain. But elite athletes have a greater knowledge of the available information and use the information to improve their performance. Likewise, there are no secrets to creating a successful business. All the methods, techniques, and know-how are accessible to everyone. Entrepreneurs must seek it out and be willing to experiment to improve their company’s performance.
About the Author
Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three start-ups and helps entrepreneurs transform their ideas into new businesses. Cynthia is the author of Startup from the Ground Up and Out of the Classroom Lessons in Success. Cynthia writes regularly at Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog. and provides in her video series information on Business Experiments.
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