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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Executive Insider

The Case For Competition

Business district

I’m on LinkedIn quite frequently.  It’s such an amazing platform for learning, growing professionally and engaging, sharing business ideas with other like-minded people.  I post and engage on an almost daily basis. It’s changed the way I think about and do business because of the brilliant minds I come across.

As of late, however, I’ve been noticing a very disturbing trend.  Specifically, in regard to how people have begun to think about competing in business.  What I believe to be the cornerstone of what makes capitalism in this country so great! So, what is it?

The unreasonable expression of care, compassion and allowing for and ‘making room’ for everyone to compete in your marketplace.  Huh?!?

WHY IT MATTERS

In my 19 years of sales & marketing, leading sales teams, executive operations and not only having sole responsibility for growing a business but the lives of the people who work there, I never thought that I would see the day.  The day when people would be advocating to go easy on the competition. But it’s happening. Are we getting soft? Be compassionate, there’s room for everyone, they say! Don’t refer to their shortcomings as a ‘weakness’, but rather a ‘difference’.  Huh?!? It’s still a SWOT analysis, right?

If you are someone with direct responsibility for growing a business, whether it be in an executive-level position, sales, marketing, etc., what would your CEO think of this new philosophy?  Just a guess, but you would likely either be fired on the spot, laughed out of the room, or both. And justifiably so!

How do you think that same conversation would go over at your companies next shareholders meeting?  Bring it up, ask if you can discuss your new ‘enlightenment’. Feel free to call me from the unemployment line and I’ll do my best to not say, “I told you so”.

THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE

In management, emotional intelligence and leading with your employee’s best interest in mind is key.  Being empathetic and self-aware about what’s going on will drive morale and a positive culture. Creating more leaders, driving their growth as it directly impacts the business in a positive way.  This philosophy can, and should, be extended to your clients and vendors alike. However, that’s where it ends. This mindset does not cross over to your competition. Let me repeat that, caring or being empathetic to what your competitors are going through will not increase your production levels, margins or marketshare…period.

This is the point where I get disagreement, for some odd reason.  Some confuse the two. If you believe that this same mindset extends beyond your business’s front door…I hope your unemployment insurance is paid up.  Your competition does not need, require or deserve the same level of emotional attention, sensitivity, culture or compassion that you are offering your employees and resulting productivity you read about and so badly want every day.

If you truly believe that they do, I have a warning for you, your competition is like a lioness in the tall grass, waiting on the weakest one in the herd to fall behind.  They are waiting to pounce! They realize that taking your marketshare is the way to make their shareholders happy, grow, deliver on the promise of bonuses, perks, benefits, healthcare, laptops, cell phones, a sweet new breakroom in the kick-ass building in that awesome area of town.  How do you honestly think that it happens?

MARKETSHARE = Revenue

Revenue pays YOUR bills

WHAT IT DOES

Competition is why there are amazing companies we all want to work for and shop online using their products to buy their products.  It’s what drives product improvement, research, and development, innovation and companies to actually do things to attract the best talent available.  Pssst, by the way, competition keeps you at the top of your game too!

Why do I feel so strongly about this?  I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve worked too hard.  I’ve been to too many tradeshows. I’ve heard too many “No’s”.  I’ve logged too many hours and too many miles.

I’ve seen people lose their jobs, and I’ve had to let people go from their jobs.  And why?? Because of companies losing market share.

When companies become complacent when companies start using words like ‘differences’ because it’s more politically correct, as opposed to actually looking for ‘weaknesses’ and you don’t capitalize on them?  People lose their jobs, that’s reality.

FINAL PITCH

Competition makes us all better.  It forces all of us to want to do better.  It forces companies to be accountable and improve our workplace environments, products they make, and the services they provide.  As a consumer, and we are all consumers, we should all want that.

Word of advice to those going soft on competition, play in the real world, get your head out of the clouds, stop lying to yourself and others.  Please feel free to get in touch with your feelings, but by loving and having compassion for your competition, will only hurt you, your business and your colleagues in the end.

In addition, if you are a consultant, working with a small business, take note as this is particularly true as they are struggling to make it.  It’s already difficult and has enormous challenges. Please note: No business ever made it by allowing their competition to run them over or by singing ‘Kumbaya’ with them in the parking lot over beers.

The bottom line is this and please make no mistake – your competition does not like you.  It’s OK to not like them. They want to see you fail and go out of business, so they can take your business.  They are looking for your weaknesses and expose them. And if you don’t look for theirs…. this is the next thing you will be looking for –

A new job.

Ryan Waters
Ryan Waters is a business management consultant at Seen It All Consulting. Ryan specialises in topics including business transformation, executive leadership, change management, talent and performance management. Ryan Waters is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.