So you have been in business for a while now. Had some success and are looking to grow further but you are wondering where that growth may come from. A new opportunity perhaps but where are you going to find the next viable opportunity?
There are three distinct areas we can focus our searches on, they should be viewed as complimentary to each other but different businesses will place different levels of emphasis on each one.
- Market Driven. The market based approach implies an active search for new product and marketing opportunities. These might be found in industries in which the organisation already competes or in new ones.
- Resource based. Here the business understands and clarifies its distinctive core competencies and strategic capabilities – aspects of the business which set it apart from its competitors. It seeks to build on these competencies and capabilities to build new values for existing and new customers. This approach has the advantage of encouraging the organisation to focus on what it does well – as long as there is a market for it.
- Competitor influenced. This is a more tactical approach which implies short term vigilance. Whilst looking to the future the business must protect its existing position and against attacks from its competitors.
As a business owner you should be looking for ways of being different from your competitors. This is unlikely to come from imitation, monitoring and copying what your rivals do, although I have seen this approach many times. Businesses should be looking to innovate to achieve two purposes:
- Always be ahead of rivals with new ideas
- Draw apart from competitors with radical differences they will find it hard to imitate
There two important caveats here though:
- The differences must mean something to customers – there is little benefit to being different for the sake of being different
- The gap or advantage should never be assumed is anything but temporary, all ideas can be copied eventually in some way shape or form.
With this in mind we can introduced a final important factor for you as a business owner – that of values.
Positions, i.e. where the businesses resources and the environment overlap, can be copied by your competitors. To ensure there is ongoing opportunity recognition, together with an ability and commitment to change, values is shown as an important third element. The overlap of this element with the organisations position is place in which your business should compete. It is useful, here, to see values representing the organisation culture and style of management, themselves dependent upon the style and approach of the strategic leader.
Even if your business does find this nirvana it is clear that in a competitive environment rivals are always looking to force the circles apart. It is for this reason we include the third initial point – the competitor influenced strategy. This approach is an attempt to stop rival organisations separating the circles.