Business leaders of today are often driven to compete strictly on price, quality, and features of their products and services. Companies who prosper over the long term don’t simply offer the best deals, the best quality, or the most impressive bells and whistles. If you want to win big in today’s cutting edge world of business, you have to begin by thinking differently and by challenging the status quo. Whether you are a new or an established business owner, these ten powerful strategies will position your company for big success.
1. Adopt the Philosophy of “Givers Gain.”
In 2007, the members of Business Network International (BNI) passed over 2.5 million referrals to each other. Founded by CEO Ivan Misner, BNI is a business and professional networking organization that offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, referrals. Misner founded BNI based on the philosophy of “Givers Gain,” which is the belief that in order to get business, it is important to first give business. One of the critical factors in achieving success rests in the ability to develop reciprocal relationships where two parties naturally refer business to each other on a consistent basis. “It’s not what you know but who you know” has never been so true as it is in today’s competitive world of business.
2. Focus on Soft Innovations
In today’s competitive marketplace, the old equation of spending more on advertising to increase profits it not working as it once did. In his book, Free Prize Inside, author Seth Godin, makes a strong case for using soft innovations as a way to get noticed in this crowded and noisy world. Soft innovations are the small yet insightful ideas that can take your product or service from good to remarkable. They are often hidden, and they usually solve a problem that is ” peripheral to what your product is ostensibly about.” At first glance, you think the soft innovation does not mean much, but once you have it in place, it becomes an essential part of your product or service. Examples of soft innovations include Starbuck’s Cards, Dinosaur-shaped pasta for kids, and Amazon.com cutting its ad spend and offering free shipping with the money saved.
How do you operate when the heat is on? How do you respond to chaos? When new skills or new behaviors are needed, how do you respond? Knowing what to do and how to do it is one thing but being able to respond effectively and to keep your cool under pressure and on a consistent basis is a very different ballgame.
As leaders in today’s world, it is crucial to learn how to work differently and how to be able to shift and bend to meet expectations which are here one day and gone the next. The half-life of a great idea or a new product or service has never been shorter, and it is up to you as a business owner to become masterful with reshaping strategies, adding new perks to old products, and to stay on top of your game in the face of dramatically changing circumstances. You may find that your strength of achievement was required to get your company up and running but that same strength is now squelching the creativity of your team. It’s time to Re-Groove! It’s time to unlock the incredible potential that is inside of you that is required to get the job done under present day demands. If you are dedicated to re-grooving (getting past the old worn out grooves of your past conditioning and the rut that we often get into,) it is essential to work with a coach or trainer who can coach you through the new behaviors quickly and in real time. By learning to re-groove, you will be able to create incredible opportunities for your company and for yourself with lightning speed.
4. Make Your Brand a “State of Mind.”
Are you winning when it comes to style, a smart and accessible mix of products and services, and first rate customer service? If so, Bravo! However, this is just a part of the equation of what it takes to truly succeed. In order to create a brand that is truly memorable, it is crucial for you to live an inspired life and to make your brand a “state of mind” for your customers. This state of mind could be a feeling of trust and confidence, a sense of well being, or a state of knowing that you are buying from a company who has your best interests at heart. This state of mind cannot develop behind the confines of the walls of your business. It grows and develops when you are in the middle of your potential buyers…in restaurants, traveling, checking out the competition, playing sports, tinkering with a hobby, having fun and lots of it! If you are living fully and in relationship with others, you will be re-energized every day and you will give your customers a vision of what an inspired life actually looks like, because you are living one! Your brand will become much more than your trimmings…it will become the connection that others feel when they think of you as a valued person in their lives.
5. Become Masterful at Mobilizing Resources.
The ability to galvanize resources, both human and monetary, and to build effective and efficient projects with them is a critical component of success in today’s marketplace. We are quick to look first at the monetary costs of a project and quickly get cold feet, when the reality is that we have valuable resources hidden in our personal and professional lives which may not cost a dime. Social capital is one resource that is one of the most valuable assets available to business owners of today. The term social capital emphasizes that very specific benefits are made available from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. The value of social capital is that people can draw on the wisdom of each other to solve common problems, especially as it relates to money, time, and resources.
6. Buck Conventional Wisdom.
In 1971, Rollin King and Herb Kelleher decided to start an airline that you might say…was different and a little bit quirky. They began with one simple notion: If you get your passengers to their destinations on time, at the lowest fare possible, and make sure they have a fantastic time doing it, people will choose you over a competing airline. This is the story of Southwest Airlines, who chose to move beyond the status quo by offering services and a sense of style that bucked conventional wisdom. With their focus on fun, games, and “Love Southwest Style,” this top ranked airline has made its mark with its strong focus on stellar customer service and conveniences such as allowing customers to proceed to their departure gate without stopping at the ticket counter, skycap, and a self-service kiosk. Most importantly, Southwest has honed in on searching for important personal qualities in those they hire– the perfect blend of energy, humor, team spirit, and self-confidence to match its famously offbeat culture. Southwest was once dismissed as a maverick, as their strategies seemed strange to the traditional “airline powerhouses.” These same powerhouses are now looking in awe at what this “maverick” has built. The strategy of originality worked…It had the sticking power required for huge success.
7. Become a Talent Farm.
When recruiting new employees, what are you looking for? Raw talent? Raw communication skills? Intellect? Athletic ability? Commitment? Skills? Flexibility? What about all of this and more? If you are a company who wants to operate at the leading edge, where change is the greatest and success is the goal, you will want to recruit the most talented group of people you can find…those people who are self- starters and who are living boldly in the world. By developing a “talent farm” culture, you can instill a mindset of excellence from the top to the bottom of your organization. This type of culture encompasses a deeply held belief that having high caliber people is crucial to your success. With this “talent farm” approach to recruiting, your employees will continually be challenged to play a bigger game and to always be on the lookout for critical talent. Successful businesses and organizations have a strong sense of what they are looking for, and they are always on the look for new talent and ways to retain them for a lifetime.
8. Embrace Your Core Values.
What is it in life that you most value? Do you value beauty, leadership, creativity, stability, or family? You can choose to orient your life around your wants and needs or the list of things you feel you “should” be doing, but if you embrace your core values and build your life around them, you will find experience inspiration and joy at a level you never thought was possible. Whole Foods Market is one of the fastest growing supermarkets of today, because its commitment to fresh, nutritious products is a value that keeps customers coming back for more and keeps employees happy, hard working, and committed. When you focus your business on doing what feels right and what fulfills you, you will have no regrets, because you have been true to the very core of your being.
9. Become a “White Hot Center” of Influence.
A “white hot center” of influence is an organization or group that you most want your company to be aligned with and in a relationship which is reciprocal. One connection into a visible and strong center of influence can position your company to attract a stream of qualified opportunities. (Example: You are an interior designer, and you want to be in the middle of Southern Accents or Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.) In order to attract a “white hot center” of influence, you have to become what you want to attract. Be as well educated, highly skilled, experienced, trained and as innovative as you possibly can be. Fill your network with other business owners who are up to big things in the world and who are experts in their respective fields. Attract talented people into your company, and tap each and every talent and skill available. As you begin to raise your bar in all areas of your business and enhance your network, you will eventually become a “white hot center” that will attract others by the thousands.
10. Just Begin.
Start where you are, and begin today to create success in your life. Drop the excuses, reasons or people to blame, dis-empowering attitudes and behaviors and get on with the business of living the life you know you were born to live. Do what you know you want to do, and do it with passion. Begin today to create the tomorrow you want. As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.
I so enjoyed collaborating with Kimberly George on this article. Kim is the Founder of the AQ Institute and the author of Coaching Into Greatness.