Strategies to Thrive On
These days, many business people are asking themselves when things are going to get back to “normal”. In most of these cases, they want to get back to the boom period of 2 to 3 years ago, when making money, finding new customers, growing the business, etc. was relatively easy. There are some that say that things will never go back to the way they were. Whatever your position is on this subject, there are five proven strategies that will help you thrive in a constantly changing environment.
The first of these strategies is Lead from Strength. As discussed in our March 2009 article “Optimize and Improve Your Strengths”, you will excel by maximizing your strengths, never by fixing your weaknesses. By asking yourself and your colleagues challenging questions you can explore opportunities to thrive in a changing environment. Questions to explore to determine if this strategy can help your organization thrive are:
- What are your organization’s core strengths? Survey your organization and build on these core strengths.
- Who are your main competitors, how do you compare, and do your core strengths differentiate you?
- What are the primary reasons customers purchase your products/services?
- Why do people buy from you instead of your competitors and why do people buy from your competitors instead of you?
- How can you match your strengths to what drives your customer’s buying decision?
The second strategy is to Leverage Existing Customers or Existing Production/Delivery Processes. By examining the relationship between your customers and your products/services you may identify ways to link new products or services using the same capabilities with either new or existing customers. Questions to explore around this strategy are:
- What other products or services can my company provide that our existing customers want? These could be new or derivative products from existing ones.
- What other prospective customers might want the products or services that we currently offer? Talk to existing customers and get referrals to find new ones.
- What new products or services can our company offer using existing processes? Leverage the knowledge gained from existing customers as they will often have suggestions.
- What relationships do we have with existing vendors/suppliers that we can use to help come up with complimentary products or services? They want you to be successful & will often help if you ask them.
The third strategy to explore is to Innovate: Get ahead of the Competition, but not too far ahead. By mastering the art of being just a little ahead of the competition with your products or services you can differentiate yourself and take advantage of changes in the market or economy. Questions to ask are:
- How can our company gain a small advantage over the competition? You want to be on the cutting edge, but not the bleeding edge.
- Can we make new product designs, new cost reductions, or quality improvements that will enhance our offerings? Look for incremental changes.
- How can our organization make improvements to customer service? By exploring customer touch points or points of connection you may find ways to get that edge over the competition. Perhaps leveraging technology or process changes will offer opportunities to improve.
The fourth strategy is to Find Niche Applications or Markets. By looking for unfulfilled demand or where customer needs are not being met, opportunities can emerge for your products/services. Some questions to ask are:
- How can we meet customer needs that are not currently being met?
- What upscale applications could be developed for our product or service? Look for that niche or unmet demand.
- How can I ensure that my company is fast on its feet to quickly take advantage of opportunities that are presented? Build in mechanisms to keep aware of changes in your core strength areas.
- Do you regularly talk to your competition, customers and suppliers and spend time thinking of the impact on your organization?
- Does your company have a strategic plan and regularly review it? By having a written plan that is regularly reviewed you have the basis for aligning organizational resources to take advantage of opportunities that arise in a changing environment.
The last strategy to thrive on change is to Exalt the Customer. By adopting a customer loyalty strategy you will optimize customer repurchase and referral opportunities. Some questions to consider here are:
- What can we do to enhance our customers’ experience with our products or services?
- What are the expectations of our customers and how can we consistently exceed these expectations? If you don’t know, ask your customers.
- How can we deepen and strengthen our relationships with our customers?
To exploit change, you do have to do things differently. I encourage you and your colleagues to examine yourselves, your attitudes, and your habits. Change starts with you. A coach can be especially helpful as you explore ways to leverage these strategies. If you and your company are serious about transforming your organization and thriving on change, give us a call.