A Best Business Strategy
How does your company protect against competitive threats? What is your long-game business strategy? How do you thwart market changes?
To thrive, a business must be constantly aware of the market and how things are changing. Knowing what the competition is doing, how economic changes affect you, where your next growth market is, and so much more.
While successful businesses are constantly adjusting . . . . with many strategies . . . . One plan stands tall in all sorts of weather.
What things that will protect your market position? How can you be ready to advance for changes?
The one constant is change. Yet, compensating does not have to be change as a reaction. Rather, use change as an offense. If you want to protect your market position, keep moving your market position. It’s the little bits that make the big difference.
Compare for a moment to sports. No team ever won by defense alone. At some point the winner must score, or the best possible result is a tie: 0-0
Of course, in business strategy there are a lot of offense actions — like marketing improvements, broader product lines, operational efficiencies, and more. These are the standards. However, there is no question, the company that innovates best holds the Aces.
Think about it. Companies known for innovation are the ones people follow. The ones noticed and the ones that get the most attention — free attention. They are the ones that garner the most loyalty, and the greatest brand recognition. It’s the strategy of advancing.
Business Strategy Leadership
Significant innovation means leadership in a business segment, and it shows not just in new products. Innovation appears in marketing, in services, in Consulting, and even in human resources. For inspiration, find a Lever to Boost the Bottom Line.
And leading, always at the front of your industry, is not only the best defense — it’s a great offense.
I’ll use three recognizable examples. While these are big names, the same is a also true in smaller scale, every day.
Hewlett Packard grew to it’s heights in precision instruments through constant innovation. They were well known for great quality and for being at the front edge of instrumentation development for scientific and medical and others. They did it again, arguably even bigger with printers and leveraged that success into computers.
Unfortunately, in more recent years HP has not kept up the innovative advances, so they have struggled with market share.
Kodak was the biggest name in photo film by innovating the best processes and film. They were a household name synonymous with photography, and innovated some of the best disposable cameras and processes.
As digital photography stepped in, they stepped out — because they didn’t innovate with the new technology. (To be sure, Kodak had digital cameras, they just weren’t compelling.) As the film markets dropped, Kodak missed the business strategy of innovation into other areas to sustain them.
Apple. Over the years we’ve seen Apple innovate to the top, then begin to flounder, then innovate up again. Consider the early Macintosh computers; then ipods. Now, of course, the iphone and ipads are everywhere. Perhaps more importantly, they have a following that is eager for every new product announcement.
With Apple, we’ve seen the rise and stumble more than once, and each time, it’s innovation that lifts them again. So what’s next? This story is far from over.
When innovation captures customer attention, business success follows — usually. Sadly, some companies fail to deliver on promised innovation, and that’s a different story. A good business strategy and great ideas can’t compensate for poor supporting structure, and the opposite is also true.
Why Innovation Works as a Business Strategy, and Why It Doesn’t
When you truly innovate, you have no competition. Sure, copycats will come, but if you are always on the edge of innovation, you will always be one step ahead of your competition. That’s how it works.
Oh, that sounds so good, and it’s absolutely true, BUT it is really hard to always push your own boundaries. As in the HP example, they came to a practical point where they couldn’t figure out how to innovate printing farther — where it didn’t make sense to print any better. In fact, they were printing so well that most people couldn’t see the improvements. They hit a technology plateau.
We see it in all of the big examples above. They innovative, they succeed, then someone innovates beyond, or they reach a plateau and struggle to keep the market. That is, the “Achilles Heel” in being the innovator.
Plateaus and creative competition are areas where this business strategy doesn’t work. That said, both plateaus and competition are symptoms showing where innovation is lacking.
How Do You Innovate?
That is the Billion Dollar question. The first step is to get in the mindset of thinking it. How can you improve for your customers? What are things that will make life better / easier / faster / more efficient / simpler for your customers.
So how do you innovate?
Maybe it’s in new products? (Like innovating from Dot Matrix to Laser Jet printing.)
Perhaps a creative new customer experience? (Think about Dell’s creative way to sell personally configured computers.)
Possibly a Marketing masterpiece? (Embodied by the Nike Swoosh and the Apple symbol.)
Or, an anywhere service paradigm? (Like DoorDash or Uber.)
There is no limit. Yet, I can only speak to history, not the future (because if I knew it, then it wouldn’t be innovation). How you choose to propel your business forward is, of course, entirely up to you. A best (not necessarily “THE” best) business strategy is to let your innovations set the course.
The point here is there are many possible directions — not just new products. Set your mind free to explore the possibilities. What do you do best? Start thinking about how you can do that different and better, then let those thoughts guide innovation.
Innovation as a Business Strategy
Can you become more creative? Check out that article. Sure, some people are naturally that way, but anyone can learn. Everyone has the ability to observe ways to improve a customer experience.
When you produce something that no one else has, you create a distinct competitive advantage. Not just anything, of course, but something that fills a desired purpose. It’s a business solution. Likewise, when you provide a service that no one else will, it’s your advantage. Or if your company innovates on the inside, that might attract and retain super top talent. Truly, innovation as a business strategy is available everywhere.
Breaking A Competitive Threat
Does this all sound so good, maybe too good? Perhaps out of reach? That’s not an uncommon response. Truth is, we all need a little inspiration once in a while. So, ask your staff. Ask your customers. Or, ask us. Just don’t get yourself into silly disputes.
Competition is always moving, and perhaps reading this same article. The best option for advancing over a competitive threat is to side-step it completely by innovating beyond. Your innovation does not need to be in the same direction as your competition, however. If your competition is coming out with a new product, for instance, perhaps you can come out with a new customer recognition process, or a new warranty, or an innovative service paradigm. You can’t keep your competition from innovating, but you can certainly innovate better in other directions to mitigate the competitive threats.
At Synthesis we are innovators that focus on customer solutions — especially in the product development world. We’ve helped many customers into new patents, and new product directions. We are not the gurus of Human Resources or detail Business Strategy (far from it), but we know how to innovate.
Of course, if you want our help, it’s easy to connect. Have a wonderful day.