It’s normal not to have your way in business. This may be another “no” response or unforeseen hiccups in your operations. What commonly doesn’t go right is your implied contest with your competition. Implied, yes. Look, the advice that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others just doesn’t fit in with entrepreneurship.
It’s possible to even have two highly successful businesses side by side or in the same industry. But when you’re competing for the same limited market then you’ll be forced into one-upmanship. Flexing on others isn’t that big a sin – on social media as well.
One Michael Porter shows that competition is broader than we always think. You’re not only competing against your fellow industry players. There is also substitute goods and services and new entrepreneurs with newer ideas coming to the party. It can be overwhelming to deal with all these variables. You may feel consigning yourself to second place is not that bad. Are you sure though?
With the New Year still fresh off the box, we have to keep up with the rejuvenation, rebound theme. Did you know that, in many places, Gym membership sign-ups surge in January? Why are we like this? Anyway, let’s figure out steps to react to losing to competition rather than giving in.
1. Accept that it’s part of the fun
Competing in business is like a marathon or a chess match. Over the course, the upper hand is going to change hands several times. It is important that you’re receptive of this truth. That’s because the first hurdle to clear in any accomplishment is your mental state. Okay, be hard on yourself perfectionist! But don’t put yourself down on how failure reflects on your personality – except if it’s a consistent theme, then there might be a problem. Instead, develop thick skin and a little bit of arrogance to take the lead again.
2. Find out what they are doing right
It has become so easy these days to give excuses on why so and so is winning, yet you’re not winning as much. Let’s change that. Focus on the facts as they are and recognize people have different areas of strengths. Have you thought of using yours to catapult yourself “there?” If your competitors are doing well then it’s because they found some hack. You owe it to yourself and your team to figure out what. Did they invest in better machines? Have they discovered a technique to work faster? Did they shed a whole load of cost? Is it marketing genius? There’s combination of a lot of things to gain marginal advantage in business.
3. Find out what you are doing wrong
Introspection. The hardest thing. Nobody really ever wants to admit it’s their fault. Except if it’s a patronizing break-up (“it’s not you it’s me,” really?). Mistakes in businesses are most likely to show up entrenched. This is why we miss them. You know that thing of “we’ve always done it like this.” It may be that you don’t commit full-time to the business, anymore, or you’ve gotten too comfortable so whatever problem becomes harder to weed out. In analyzing your businesses understand that growth is not only about size but also about operations. Are you getting better? Efficient? Faster? Et cetera.
4. Come up with your own solutions
Only those who live in Africa can understand. If you don’t tailor solutions to fit your circumstances and your goals; what the hell are you doing? Our outside voices are only second opinions. They may or may not sway you. Another thing, it’s too common to miss out on two obvious solutions. The first is the stuff right in front of you. Second, a creative idea you’re afraid of being the first to try.
When you change, don’t limit yourself to tactical solutions. This is when you are putting out a fire or putting on a kiraka. I don’t know which analogy works. At times, be strategic. Yes. Tear down the whole thing and do another way that won’t have as much problems in the first place.
5. Make it work
Do you know that there are very smart people in the Ministries, Parastatals and County Headquarters? But it’s not good enough to be a great analyst and planner. If you want to be the full-package, you have to be someone at implementing projects. You can either be the contingencies person or one who is just too flexible. You’re needed to work out compromises and win-wins. What do you mean you can’t please everybody? Be a good manager of things – money, people, time and other resources.1