The success of a business is based not only on its profitability but several other factors. Successful entrepreneurs keep their organizations growing, winning the competition consistently. While many successful businesses enjoy their hockey stick growth at some point in their evolution, not every, keeps the growth and many times meets its peril. It is important to understand what success means for a business and how some entrepreneurs keep their organizations growing.

Kent Billingsley, author of Entrepreneur to Millionaire has a lot to say about this topic through his book. Let’s dive in.

How can entrepreneurs help their competitors lose every time?

If the entrepreneur has a compelling value proposition.  Then education not promotion.  By helping the buyers buy.  Most entrepreneurs and business leaders spend a fortune of time, money and resources promoting, marketing, and selling their products and services.  Which is what I call “offense”.  Doing too much of it (like email blasts) and it can be quite offensive. 

Instead, to help competitors lose, you must be agnostic, and act like a buyer.  I share a story in the book about how I was losing a major (multi-million-dollar contract) in the final hour and I switched from sales mode to buyer mode. I took the side of the buyer and walked them through all the models being offered by my competitors and my company.  I shared the strengths and weaknesses of every company’s model. 

I didn’t bash the competition, I positioned where everyone fit on the competitive landscape. Even more importantly I educated the executive buyers on why to buy which model.  If you want low price and local presence, then A is best.  If you want a company with longevity and experience, then B is best.  If you want the lowest cost (not price) and least risk, then our solution would be best.  No one had done that for them and it helped them choose my firm once they added risk to the buying criteria.

Why should there be both offense and defense in the game of business?

Offense is presenting what you have to offer and defense is presenting what else is available.  Buyers are overwhelmed with all the choices and become frustrated or worse make a bad decision.  It’s more important than ever to help buyers buy. 

Defense is when you help the competitor lose or the buyer choose the best solution.  Too often buyers make a decision based on price or brand.  Those are usually the worst reasons to make a buying decision.  The book shares many different ways to help the buyer buy by educating them on how to make decisions.

Why do highly successful businesses start with a problem?

It’s the reason for being.  If there isn’t a problem to solve or a gap to close, there is no foundation or basis for a sustainable business.  What is the one industry that is being wiped out right now because the problem they solved was from last century? Retail. A hundred years ago the concept of a retail store was to make it easy for the buyer to go to one place to buy everything they needed.  Then we saw the explosion of malls in the last half the century.  Malls meant someone could go to one location, park, and find dozens of stores filled with everything.  However, the internet destroyed the “aggregate shopping model.”  Now people can go online and see products available from all over the world and can buy them while in their pajamas.

Amazon didn’t kill the retail stores, it just solved the new fundamental marketplace problem (FMP) with the internet.  Offering thousands of choices from thousands of stores.  The retail stores are no longer solving an FMP. Every industry has models based on FMPs that are evolving or are gone.  The chapter on Blueprinting Optimization is all about change to stay aligned with a current or solve a future FMP. 

Back to malls. To stay relevant many malls are quickly converting to food and services.  Many malls have sports courts or themes to continue to attract people.  The smart ones figured out that you can’t win by offering products, but they can sell services and experience.

What do Blackberry and Gateway have in common, and why couldn’t they survive?

Inability to adapt.  Blackberry owned the market for texting but was slaughtered by the advent smartphones (dozens of functions and thousands of apps in one device).  Gateway could never make the transition to laptops even as regular PCs sales were dramatically slowing.  In most cases, the failure to adapt was based on the curse of having historical success.

What is an entrepreneurial workforce, and how can a business develop one?

An entrepreneurial workforce is having leaders and employees who are comfortable being “entrepreneurial” within a team or enterprise construct.  Meaning the person will take calculated risks, make smart investments, treat the budgets like it’s their own money, stay a “thirsty learner” constantly developing, being creative and innovative in problem solving, and above all questioning old paradigms or models. 

Entrepreneurial workforce doesn’t mean being a maverick, working solo, or being a cultural misfit.  It means being a strong team player and taking on broader responsibilities even if someone is an individual performer. The future of business – or continuing being hyper successful – will be determined by how “entrepreneurial” the workforce is.  But “organizational entrepreneurialism” doesn’t happen by chance or will.  It only comes from designing all parts of the company – from culture to compensation and from process to strategy to support and reward the right behavior.

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