Wednesday, July 26, 2023

6 Strategies To Anticipate And Survive New Entrants

start-new-entrantBased on my years of experience as a business consultant, I’m convinced that most business leaders are so busy with day-to-day issues that they have no time to be proactive with new innovation and staving off future competitors. Thus they are blindsided and try to react quickly when a new competitor starts stealing customers. The result is constant stress and losing ground.

For example, we all remember when Blockbuster realized too late that Netflix was stealing customers by offering videos online rather than via DVDs, but even then they were unable to adapt their processes and their thinking. The result was the loss of their entire business over time. I see this happening in smaller ways often, where there is minimal focus on competition.

Here are some key initiatives that I recommend to every business owner and leader to stave off new competitors before they seriously impact or cause a competitive crisis in your business:

  1. Continually compare yourself to known competitors. Most business metrics I see compare current performance to your own previous experience, rather than your performance compared to industry standards and competitors. You may be continually improving, yet falling behind due to higher rates of growth by new competitors.

    Real industry leaders, such as Google and Microsoft, will tell you that there is nothing like great competitors to push you beyond what even you thought you could achieve. You will be amazed to see what you can find on the Internet about competitors performance.

  2. Never assume that your “first to market” lead will hold. While your initial idea was new and not envisioned by others, it is now out there for others to attack with copies and enhancements. To stay a leader, you need to find other breakthroughs on a regular basis, and not rely on a past legacy. Look for other unsolved problems for a new legacy.

    Technology advancements and user interests evolve over time to change the market. Steve Jobs took advantage of both of these things to take the “first-mover” advantage for smart phones away from Blackberry and others to make Apple a huge competitor.

  3. Isolate a small team from day-to-day to work on the future. It’s easy to find daily problems to swamp all your resources, such that looking to stave off future competitors is not in your priorities. Balancing a focus on the future as well as today is a key to survival in the current environment. A leader that does not invest in the future has no future.

    To have the best possible outcome, you need to make sure your “futures” team is stacked with people who can both think outside of the box and figure out what kind of information you need to determine whether an idea is implementable and marketable.

  4. Reward new growth experiments and learn from failures. After initial success, most companies reward only process repeatability and stabilization. Amend this culture to highlight and reward new initiatives on a regular basis, with metrics to assess value and progress. Establish individual and team recognition events to celebrate successes.

    Jeff Bezos of Amazon is a huge supporter of innovation experiments. He believes that if you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your agility, and thus grow and compete more effectively, as well as learn more from failures.

  5. Keep your ear to the ground for seismic opportunity shifts. Real change and big new opportunities, driven by political change and climate concerns, often can be seen first outside of customer and market channels. It pays to listen for signs of unrest and noise around the world that could lead to unanticipated competitors unless you get there first.

    For example, the value of a higher cause in business has risen greatly. TOMS shoes inspired everyone by effectively communicating a higher purpose of helping the needy by donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold. The return was far greater than the cost.

  6. Focus your hiring and training on preparing for the future. Rather than hiring to fill specific current openings, look for people with a broad range of skills, a diverse background, and a learning mindset. Balance your internal training for specific roles with a focus on market trends and change. Promote those who take the lead in change.

The key message in all these initiatives is to be proactive In solidifying your business against potential competitors by allocating a balance of time, energy, and resources to continuous change in your own business. In the long run, you need a broader personal and team mindset of innovation and customer focus to keep your business vital and relevant in today’s market.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 07/11/2023 ***



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