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Today’s changing workplace requires a strategy that every employee, external partner, client, and customer, can embrace. Workplace transformation must account for the impact of change both inside (employees) and outside (clients/customers) the organization. The strategy should represent the betterment of a healthy whole, because if I haven’t said it enough already: We keep substituting, because we are treating symptoms, not solving problems.
And as I have said countless times: without a strategy, change is merely substitution, not evolution.
You cannot build and sustain momentum in an organization without being able to see the next opportunities of greatest potential, sow them, grow them, share them, and then re-sow them into new opportunities. You must identify competitive threats that could come from companies in and beyond your marketplace—and understand how all this connects to the people who work for you as well as your customers. Because if you don’t act to do it and keep doing it, some other company will—domestically and internationally. This is already happening. Look at the “American” beer companies Budweiser and Miller; they are no longer owned by Americans. We’re losing control of our marketplaces, because of this!
Here are three things you must do to avoid losing control:
1. Apply Strategic Focus
This sounds like a basic requirement, but few entrepreneurs have the discipline to really practice it. Applying strategic focus requires you to deploy diversity of thought a strategy for growth. Use your know-how and intellectual capital to create a competitive advantage for your business, especially when budgets are tight. That means never losing focus on the marketplace you serve and continue to improve and deliver for it. As the saying goes, winners focus; losers spray. When entrepreneurs grow impatient and panic, that’s when they spray. Successful entrepreneurs know their marketplace, remain steady and are always monitoring their competitors to ensure they are not losing any momentum. They know when it’s time to strike, take calculated risks and constructively disrupt the market. Applying the right amount of strategic focus means being aware of the opportunities of greatest potential and knowing when to invest in them.
As my father always told me, “Progress is good, but if the process of creating progress doesn’t convert into momentum, then you don’t have the right amount of strategic focus to help it become something more evolutionary!” Progress gets stuck in substitution if all you’re doing is sowing. It becomes momentous when you start growing because quite simply you cannot build momentum without growing. You might think you are growing by one measure—sowing—but you do not have sustainable momentum.
2. Market to the Right Clients
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs may find momentum with their business, only to learn that the clients they are marketing to are not the right clients. I learned the need to do this the hard way during my first business venture 20 years ago. Though rapidly growing, I was operating on the thinnest of margins; the business was so vulnerable that I could not afford to lose clients. Then I realized I could do that. I realized that having the right mix of clients was the key to sustainable success. While I was increasing revenue, I had not increased profits. I was so focused on cash flow that I failed to see that. So I turned my focus away from the one’s who were costing me and towards those who offered the greatest opportunities for growth. In other words, I invested in my winners and spent less time with the others. I focused the most time on people and clients who generated sales and drove my desired margins. This competency was critical to getting my business out of a financial rut.
3. Build Strong Strategic Partners
When people work with us they often say, “You know I thought about that, but I just didn’t know how to do it.” That’s the point; you don’t need to explore what you think you already know. You need strategic partners to see new ways of doing things and explore opportunities. Do your external partners understand your business well enough to help you do that?
Entrepreneurs who fail to understand this are usually going at and growing their business alone – and chances are right into a rut. A strategic partner can bring greater clarity and understanding to your business by:
- Complementing what your business sells and opening new doors of opportunities
- Providing the intellectual capital that strengthens your overall value proposition
- Improving your ability to broaden client reach and enter new distribution channels of business
- Adding value to your overall business by serving as an extension of your brand
A strategic partner is much like having the right mentor. It is a reciprocal relationship that is constantly fueled with shared knowledge, wisdom and mutual trust – as evidenced when each business grows as a result. As a result, the relationship won’t just make progress; it will generate momentum.