CAN YOU BE ASSURED OF LONG TERM BUSINESS SUCCESS?
recent months many business people have been asking me that
Upon questioning them further it quickly became apparent
that the brief recession caused by The Asian Crisis
caused many a hiccup in financial performance and confidence.
Since late 1998 there has been a recovery of sorts but it
appears that only a few learnt the lessons available in
1998. The recovery removed a crisis for many and then the
creative and strategic thinking stopped. The were
okay again mode took over for many.
The lesson though was Some people grew their businesses
through that period, especially in market share.
Those who didnt suffer as much were ready when the
upturn arrived and have taken advantage of it to further
increase market share and profitability. They have also
been in a position to attract the best people because of
their perception in the market place. The outcome is that
these people have accelerated their success path whilst
others are still recovering back to their pre-crisis position.
What have been the crucial differences between these
Lets begin with the leaders/business owners.
Those on the accelerating success path have a very clear
vision of how they want their lives to be. They have clear
goals for themselves and their families, from assets to
lifestyles, from income to holidays, from peace of mind
to health, they are very clear on how it is for them in
5, 10 or 20 years. Their daily activity and focus clearly
demonstrates a commitment. That shows they are doing the
things that will make a difference. They also have very
clear personal, family and business values - values they
wont compromise in pursuit of their goals.
These leaders have all decided that the business they own
is going to deliver those outcomes. To that end they all
have a clear vision of what the business will look like
in the future, what it will be like to work there and how
the people who work there will perform.
This focus has helped them work out their greatest service
or product, who their customers are and where their market
is. They have then provided the time and resources to create
a strategic advantage in all three elements.
Not only that , their managers and employees are aware of
the vision and know that their future success is coupled
with that of the company.
So what are their managers doing differently?
Firstly, apart from managing the now they are encouraged
to join in designing the future. Each grouping within a
traditional organisation has their own agendas, viewing
every activity and proposed change in light of how it affects
them. In these businesses, going to the future, they now
view such things in terms of meeting the future vision because
thats where their personal security lies. Their being
part of success, and being recognised for their part in
it, is a powerful motivational force. This vision is creating
proactive future thinking rather than the usual reactive
crisis management of the operational issues of the now.
Traditionally that has been the managers comfort-do what
I know and look busy doing it. Along with their leaders
these managers know thats a short term path.
Secondly, they have stopped taking the productivity figures
of the last few years and extrapolating them to the future.
Rather they have, along with their leaders, taken a look
at how they currently do business - what products or services
they currently offer and asked themselves whether they are
still a competitive advantage. Using a competitors
innovation is admitting you dont have a competitive
advantage. It is a bit like buying new technology where
todays hot topic is in tomorrows garage sale.
This applies just as much to a business whose product is
These leaders and managers are working together to build
not the model of today, but a business of sustainable profitability.
Their vision has clearly taken them beyond the pointless
game of imitating their competitors. They are too busy designing
and implementing competitive advantages.
And what of their employees/contractors?
These leaders soon found that when they shared their vision
for the business that things happened.
Firstly the people involved at the operations and delivery
end of the business came up with the best ways to use current
resources in a more competitive way. Secondly, they suggested
new products or services using current resources and knowledge.
All that was needed was a few new skills. Thirdly, they
suggested new performance standards that exceeded the leaders
expectations. Fourthly, and most importantly, the usual
scepticism in such change environments evaporated when the
leader and managers changed their behaviour to match the
new goals and standards.
What else happened?
Those who were uncomfortable with the future left.
Productivity soared ..
New recruits began to beat a path to their doors seeking
Success became celebrated. Resources were shared, tasks
were embraced, secrets disappeared and the fingers of blame
stayed in the hands of those accepting responsibility.
The focus now beams on the service or product. They are
continually asking themselves if what they are offering
is still a competitive advantage. Those not moving forward
are still offering the same service/product as 5 years ago,
when 1 or 2 years ago it had already lost its competitive
So what is the answer to the question of long term success?
There is no doubt that vision, goals, focus, self discipline,
commitment and leadership are crucial ingredients.
How you use all these elements to test the value of your
product/service and its competitive advantage is the key.
Then there is your excellence factor. What are you excellent
at? What do you do better than anyone else?
PUT YOUR RESOURCES INTO THAT WHICH YOU ARE EXCELLENT AT.
THEN MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS DO IT BETTER THAN YOUR COMPETITORS.