I had the privilege of sitting down with my friend Ben from Global Harvest Networks to share ideas on how to help companies grow. When I first met Ben, his story of growth in his company inspired me, and he hasn’t stopped growing. When Ben and I were talking, he shared that he is always amazed at how his team is willing to step up and take on new challenges. His company has developed a culture that gives him a competitive edge. In light of this conversation I thought I’d share with you how you can use culture to gain a competitive edge!
Use Culture to Gain a Competitive Edge
There are two things I know about your business. First, if you are not making money, you are going to go out of business. Second, your business cannot operate without people. Businesses either grow or die.
According to aei.org: only 12% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still a Fortune 500 company in 2015. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, or how your proprietary information gives you an edge. Without people to sell, develop, and produce the product or provide the service, nothing will get done.
The other little secret, your product or service can be the absolute best today, but if you don’t continuously improve, you’ll soon be left behind. Need proof? Remember the Motorola Razor phone? What happened to Motorola? When I was a kid, everyone in the neighborhood had an Atari 2600 game console. Atari isn’t even in business anymore. Not to mention the number of airlines, car companies, and electronics companies that no longer exist.
Last month we discussed the importance of developing proactive leadership. To take this discussion to the next level, your leaders should be creating a culture that gives you a competitive edge!
Challenge the Status Quo
When you find something that works stick with it. Right? I mean that sounds like good advice. My dad used to tell me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This advice was probably sound, when my dad saw me taking a screw driver to the VCR because I wanted to “see how it works” but this mentality can be detrimental to a business.
I have met business owners that have done a decent job of building themselves a profitable business. However, after several years, they find they can’t increase revenue or market share, and sometimes they are even losing revenue. They call in consultants (like me), and when I suggest making changes to the business model, I get immediate resistance. They built their business doing it a certain way and come hell or high water, that is the way it will be done. In the meantime, their competitors have found a way to solve the same problem cheaper, faster and smarter. Who is going to stay in business longer? Create a culture that is as proactive as your leaders.
Develop Friendly Competition
Anther struggle I see in businesses is a culture of cut-throat competition. I mean that culture where everyone is out for themselves and not for the company? Friendly competition is fine, fun, and productive. It is when the competition is mean, undermining, and counterproductive that it becomes toxic to a company.
Let’s use a manufacturing company as an example. This company runs three shifts a day to produce their product. Management decides to help motivate the production floor, that they’ll have a competition over the next month to see how may products each shift can make. In a culture of friendly competition, each shift would work hard and try to produce the greatest number of products. They would get creative to find more efficient and effective ways. Ideally, each subsequent shift will do this. Each team wins, because they learn how to be more effective and efficient. One team may win a prize (or bragging rights), and the company benefits from improved productivity and profitability.
Now, if you have a cut-throat type culture, the results will be extremely different. Here you may have one shift trying to sabotage the next shift. They could damage or “lose” material. They certainly wouldn’t be creative and find innovative ways to be more productive. In this type environment each shift would be out for themselves, and may even hinder production on the other shifts if they thought it would give them an edge.
This Week’s Challenge
This week I have given a couple examples how a culture can help your business gain a competitive edge. By developing a culture that challenges the status quo. What are you doing well today, and how can you make that better? Develop opportunities for friendly competition. This can be in sales, marketing, manufacturing, wherever. Create a culture that encourages innovative and creative thinking, and watch your competitive edge sharpen!
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me.