Planning is bringing the future to the present in order to do something about it
Recently, I came across a lecture that Michael Porter gave to an audience of entrepreneurs in Dubai, I had already heard it. And, as with the rereading of a book, in which each new opportunity to face a text brings you surprises and news; listening to this material once again made me focus on something that went unnoticed in the past. Porter encouraged his audience to earn success –earn your success-. The simplicity of this concept seems so obvious that many of us overlook it, yet forget it. We face the market leaving aside this simple truth.
Winning success, as Porter advises, means achieving our own success and not that of others. However, when we face the market, we are competing against everyone to be the best, when what we should be concentrating on is not that; We should put all our effort to be the best option: to be chosen by our consumers. If we did, our perspective would change completely.
One of the great contributions of Michael Porter’s theory was to invite businessmen and entrepreneurs to stop looking at the navel and to contemplate their environment. To look at your competition to get a perspective on what our place in the market should be. In other words, it is not important to be the best and even that is not enough. What is truly relevant is to realize who we want to be the best for and focus our forces and resources on it.
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It is amazing that so few companies have realized such a relevant concept. One of the main objectives in the professional world is to obtain the greatest possible benefit from investments, from the energy we put into our projects, from the emotions we experience in front of our perspectives, from the effort that we will have to make to achieve what we we propose ourselves, from the illusions that we engender in the process. But, when we launch ourselves to compete, we get confused: we believe that professional life is like a sports joust, in which there is only one winner and everyone else loses. No. It is not like that.
In the professional and business field, we need to clearly define what is the characteristic that will make us stand out so that our potential clients discover us and prefer us. What Porter said, he supports it with an example. Anyone would think that the best car on the market is a luxurious one that has all the comforts and amenities. That may be the best vehicle for an urban executive, but not for a farmer who, in addition to comfort, requires ways to move on all types of terrain. Many will think that the best pen is a fountain with a gold nib, but surely a child who is learning to write will not agree with that assessment. The best pen for someone learning to scribble letters is one that is sturdy.
The best pen for a child has other characteristics; the best vehicle for a farmer meets other needs. The success we want to achieve refers to putting the mind, capacity and resources to plan and decide how we are going to build our competitive advantage. That is, we have to focus on determining who we want to be better for and doing it. According to Brian Tracy, an expert in human potential development, every minute saved in planning will save us up to ten minutes in execution. If this is so, we should invest time in answering us what our competitive advantage is and this will save us time when entering the market. In this line of thought, if time is money, we can deduce that for each peso invested in defining our detail of distinction, we will save up to ten pesos at the time of the operation.
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It seems that from so much we are staring at the navel and contemplating the market, we have lost focus. It is true, we have to see what our competition is doing, but we do not have to define ourselves based on what others are doing. To earn our own success, we have to sharpen our focus. There are several ways to do it:
- See what my competition is doing wrong to start doing it right.
- Notice that my competition is not doing, what gaps it is leaving to be able to fill that void.
- Understand what need is not being met and offer those alternatives.
- Having the ability to see an opportunity where others see nothing.
Of course, many companies are excellent at what they do and that does not mean that there are customers who are not entirely comfortable with what they are receiving. These companies do not have to stop doing what they are doing well, however, there opens a window of opportunity that can be taken advantage of. It is possible that I am not going to be the best in the market – and that it is not in my interest. The important thing is that I am the eligible option for those who are going to pay me for my products and services.
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To succeed, it is necessary to focus on actions that generate success. The mere act of reflecting on this intention unleashes creativity and triggers the chances of success. This is not an act of sleight of hand, it is not magic. It is about the effects that clarity has on the achievement of objectives. By understanding our competitive advantage, we focus on making it happen; we realize the corrections that we must make and we correct, we do not give up.
They say that overthinking complicates things. Indeed, that happens when we think and rethink without clarity and without intention. But, by concentrating on building our competitive advantage, we are making things simpler. The glorious thing is that, in doing so, we are focusing on taking actions that will help us generate our own success. The wonderful thing is that this is how it works for people, for companies and for startups.
Knowing our competitive advantage facilitates decision processes and we can make them easy for those who are going to decide that we are the best alternative. If I am far away, I get closer; if I am very high, I bend down; if it is very hard, I soften it; if I am not accessible I make myself affordable. I build from actions that generate success for me.
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