Winning in business is so much better than surviving – or worse yet, struggling. Winning means going home each day feeling really good. It means making payroll easily. It means investing in new projects and new ideas without shuddering to think of the impact of a mistake. Statistics show that industry leaders produce better profits.
I really don’t want to run any business that can’t win. It’s just not worth it.
Does your business have the right to win? Having the right to win means that your business and your team has what it takes to dominate your marketplace. It’s about whether you will win the competitive struggle with all your rivals. To be clear, a business can’t win in every marketplace. But you, as owner, get to choose where to compete.
On the one hand, you may choose a niche market in a defined geographic area. If the niche is defensible, lucrative, and you have what it takes to win, great! Alternatively, if you’ve got what it takes, you may seek to dominate one industry segment worldwide.
So what does it mean to earn the right to win? It means that no competitor offers a package of products and services that is better than what you offer. It means that you are the first firm they think of when they need what you specialize in.
Now, if you are lucky enough to have no competition, you can run the business poorly while overcharging, and still do really well! Innovators the world around have enjoyed this for a short time. But competition will find you. And they will want to steal away your right to win.
When I think about the right to win, a number of attributes come to mind.
Quality & Value. You will offer a better quality/value proposition. That could be cheap products at unusually low prices, or it could mean complex, high value services at excellent (but still high) prices. Either way, for your target customer, they’ll find your products or services to be a better deal than your competition.
Knowledge. You will know more about your subject than anyone else. You’ll take all the courses you can find. You’ll have resources you can turn to when you need to learn more. You’ll be the local top expert.
Continuous Improvement. Knowing that the competition is trying to unseat you, you’ll continually be trying new things, new ideas, new services. They may be taking aim at you, but you’re a moving target. You’ll embrace foreign competition, new materials, new regulations and other marketplace changes as an opportunity for you to shine and a chance for competitors to stumble.
The Team. Your people will be top quality, and will be pulling your business forward. Anybody that is not great in their position will be re-deployed into the workforce.
Finances. You have enough working capital to run the business well, and you keep the books in good order. You know where you stand, are profitable, and know what you can afford.
Sales and Marketing. You keep your business at the top of the mind of all your prospects. They enjoy doing business with you. You truly understand what your customers need from you.
Operations. You are efficient and productive. Waste is not tolerated. Your costs are as low or lower than your competition. On-time delivery and on-budget costs are the norm.
Evaluate each key competitor on the above attributes. On first pass, do it on what you know about each of them. Evaluate your own business too. Do you come out on top? Be honest with yourself! If you don’t come out on top, craft a plan to close each gap. You don’t have to be the best at everything. But you need to be close on everything, and the leader overall. If you don’t have a clue about your competition, start studying them now. Ask your customers about the competition – they’re a great source.
What if it’s impossible to close the gaps? What if you realize that it’s impossible to have such a fine business, and you cannot earn the right to win? You have an important choice to make. If you are happy with the way things are and you like the lifestyle you have now, great. Not everyone is driven to make the most money, or to be the most successful. But if winning is your dream, and the business you are in can’t get you there, think about changing businesses.
Even if you’re not close to dominating your marketplace, the right to win is a concept that will push you and your business to be the best. It’s a good quarterly exercise to engage in with your staff. It’s often painful at the start, but as you close the gaps, you’ll notice the difference on the bottom line – and in your pride.
- If you’re not trying to win, competitors will steal away your right to win.
- You don’t have to be the best at everything, just the best overall.
- If earning the right to win seems impossible, think hard about changing course.