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Don’t Lose Your Competitive Leverage

Updated on October 5, 2015

Hey manager! Are you concerned about keeping your competitive advantage?

I didn’t say “gain” an advantage. I said, “keep” it. Maintaining your competitive advantage is much harder than gaining the upper hand. It takes a different sort of plan, a long-term approach to competition and business operation.

Maintaining your competitive edge requires managers to develop and implement strategies in (at least) four areas: the market, industry regulations, technology, and customer appetite.

If you don’t adapt to what the market is doing, you will end up losing ground by default. Now, some might say overcorrection is just as bad as ignoring trends, and there may be some truth to that. But the far greater sin is refusing to adapt as a market shifts under your feet. It doesn’t matter if you love a paradigm or method or plan, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Adapt and stay on top. If you don’t, you can bet someone else will beat you to it. Just ask Borders and Blockbuster Video. The former never adapted and simply shut their doors. The latter tried far too late to correct their downward skid. By the time they had rental boxes set up, Red Box was already working on streaming. Blockbuster never recovered.

What gives? What “tell” did Borders miss that Barnes & Noble and Books A Million caught? If both of these big box bookstores can make it in an Amazon world, why couldn’t Borders? Simple. Two adapted. One did not or could not. And how did Blockbuster fail to see where home entertainment was going? Without casting any stones, let’s just say these are prime examples of a scenario that happens All The Time. Businesses or management just can’t or won’t see the writing on the wall, and they pay huge consequences.

Another issue that can trip you up: industry regulations. Things change. Leadership changes. Government changes … and every time, the rules change too. If you can’t keep up, you will learn the hard way.

Technology is a huge “tell” in keeping your edge. If you are not willing to at least examine how new technology can benefit your business, you will find yourself outpaced by more open minded competition.

Finally, the customer really is king. Listen to what they say. Pay attention to their responses, and act accordingly.

Gennady Barsky is a real estate mogul from NYC.


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