Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Building a billion-dollar enterprise, 6

Competing means being exceptional, not asking for exceptions.

That came to mind as I was thinking about Homewood - that as a neighborhood, Homewood must learn to compete. And I quickly personalized it: I must learn to compete. Or more precisely, to compete to win.

Winning seems more likely if one follows certain rules. I have thought of five, which I now state as BBDE Mantras, parts of the BBDE Code, each accompanied by a reflection question or two. For the uninitiated, BBDE stands for Building a Billion-Dollar Enterprise, so the Mantras are geared toward business. But if you find them applicable elsewhere, let me know...

1. Be the only. If you're the only one who does what you do, that obviously eliminates the entire problem of competition from the get-go. However, it also intensifies the challenge of determining the value of what you do. Maybe the reason that you're the only one doing what you do is because nobody cares much about it. But if people do care, then you can lock in your audience/customer base by being the only one who satisfies their caring.

What can I do and be the only one doing it? How do I establish the value of doing it?

2. Be the first. If you're the only, you're automatically the first. But when you succeed, you may inspire imitators. Which becomes an obvious selling point, if you are smart about staying out front. However many others enter the field, you can always say "First!" But don't get cocky, kid. Being first may not be enough if someone behind you is following Rule #3.

How can I continue to be first, over and over?

3. If you can't be the only or the first, be the best. That guy at the head of the pack? Talk to his customers and find out what they wish he would do better. Then do those things better, while doing everything else at least as well. Relentlessly improve everything.

What are the category leader's shortcomings, and how can I make them my strengths?

4. If you can't be the best, affiliate with the best. Form a partnership with the best. Allow their quality to enhance your reputation. And then live up to that reputation. At that point, of course, you're not competing with the best, but you're still competing with everyone else. That could be enough for you.

What can I offer the category leader to help them be even better?

5. If you can't affiliate with the best, consider changing direction so that you can go back to number 1.

What can I do and be the only one doing it?

And there they are: my top five most obvious rules for competing to win. What about you? What rules would you add for competing to win?

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