In the book, The Discipline of Market Leaders, business strategists Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema suggest that the most successful companies in the world have one thing in common: They have learned to do one thing better than anyone else in their niche.
Many startups fail because they attempt to do the opposite.
Faced with competition from all sides, they try to become great at everything. They spread themselves too thin and ultimately don’t become noteworthy of anything.
How to Outmaneuver Competition
As a small business owner, you can strategically shift your focus during the startup phase in order to outmaneuver competitors and achieve market penetration quicker and more effortlessly. Here are three areas that Treacy and Wiersema suggest you base your business around.
1. Operational Excellence
Think about Amazon and your local supermarket. They deliver quality, reasonable pricing, and ease of purchase and use. These businesses are all about efficiency, hassle-free service, profits through high volume and low margins, and tightly controlled processes.
2. Product Leadership
Think about Mercedes-Benz or a local cafe that makes the best coffee in the neighborhood. They focus on creating the best products through innovation. They’re the artists of their niche.
3. Customer Intimacy
Think about a digital firm which aims to deliver a custom web design, brand identity, SEO, social media, and technology solution for your business. It’s a firm which provides specific, rather than generic, solutions.
Three More Ways to Knockout the Competition
Here are three more insights that Treacy and Wiersema’s discuss that can give you even more power to knockout the competition.
1. Narrow your focus.
The main point here is that companies succeed by narrowing their focus and becoming superior at one thing, rather than following the temptation to broaden their focus and be “good enough” at everything.
What’s not immediately obvious is that you can consider shifting your focus as your startup grows. Shifting your focus will help you become better at what you already do.
2. Change your course.
My fiancee, for example, runs a photography business. In the first year of operation, he couldn’t compete with established and more experienced photographers on photographic style. Even though he was producing great work, he just didn’t have enough experience as a photographer under his belt to beat his competitors as an artist.
One thing he noticed was that the established players had confusing price schemes that were inflated by inefficient business practices. He decided to outmaneuver his competitors by offering his photography as part of a simple and easy to understand purchasing system with a low-overhead business model. In other words, he chose to compete on operational excellence.
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