faced a difficult task, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it."
Sometimes, however, we make it harder than it should be. One way in which I
see business owners handicap themselves all the time is by effectively conceding
an important battle every single day.
The battle? That would be the fight between the best and the merely
good. I see, hear and talk with business leaders all the time for whom
the best they have isn't the best there is.
Don't get me wrong. I fully understand that small businesses can't always
compete with their larger brethren when it comes to resource-intensive,
expensive outlays, such as plant and equipment, advertising spend and R&D.
But the truth is, many of the most important building blocks of sustainable
business growth can be just as world-class in small organizations as they are in
large ones-- if not considerably better.
Here are the top three areas which, in your business, you should be truly
able to say "Our best is as good as the best there is":
It's a canard to believe that only large
businesses can hire the best talent. I've been helping small and
medium-sized companies hire world-class talent for over 30 years, and I've yet
to see a determined, patient business owner stymied in attracting the talent
Don't put up with merely good employees. Every time you launch a new
initiative, or plan a new product or service offering, ask yourself: Is the
person you're putting in charge of it the best there is - or merely the
best you have?
2. Product or service offering.
Speaking of products and
services, take a look at your current offering. In your field, in your industry,
in your geographic region, in the niche you serve, are they the best there
If not, why not? Are there genuine reasons why you're not delivering the best
product or service possible (cost barriers that you'll only overcome through
scale, for example), or is it simply that you've 'settled' over time for
Here's an important coda: the two growth cornerstones above are intimately
connected. Delivering products and services that are the best in your industry
requires that you hire the very best. And you'll only be able to attract the
very best by committing to deliver best-in-class products and services. The two
go hand in hand.
Here's one area where you can actually beat
your large competitors hands-down. Frankly, the culture in most large companies
sucks. Yours needn't - indeed, it mustn't.
There are all sorts of reasons why large organizations get culture so badly
wrong, from laziness to ineptitude via complexity and entropy. But the reasons,
for you, are irrelevant. What is (highly) relevant is that culture eats strategy's lunch, and there is no
reason why a smaller company shouldn't have a vibrant, world-class culture.
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