Ignore the competition

It’s not often you turn on German televi-
sion and find an American executive saying nice things about your company.
That happened recently when this person was being asked why our company had been so dominant so long in many areas of the sports market place. “It’s simple,” he said, “the people at IMG don’t care what their competitors are doing. They set their own standards.”
It’s true that we don’t pay much attention to what our competition is doing. Sure we keep an eye on them. But we don’t judge ourselves by their standards, or flog ourselves if they appear to be gaining on us. It’s good business, not arrogance.
In my mind it’s futile and self-limiting to judge yourself by your competitors’ standards. Gauging how you’re doing by comparing yourself to competition means stooping to their level, not stretching to set your own level of excellence. It means you’re letting others set your agenda. This means you’re perpetually doomed to reactive rather than proactive state.
It’s certainly no way to run dynamic, creative engine of growth. I remind people that we didn’t get to our position by imitating our competition. This would permanently lock us into position that’s half step behind everyone else. We need to be at least three steps ahead of them. To do that you must ignore the competition and operate by your own standards. This attitude shows in many ways:

1) Be unconventional
Given the choice, I’m attracted to something that’s not been done before, not to one that’s been working for years. That’s probably no way to run safe business. But I’m not interested in safety. I’m comfortable with risk and putting ourselves on the line, because risk can provide you with great rewards.
One example of this is about six years ago one of our London television executives concluded that India deserved Western-style sports broadcasting and that our company was the one to do it. Our man’s logic was impeccable. India was huge market, with middle class bigger than the entire United States. It was largely unexploited. Its broadcasting was mired in the 1950s. And big part of the population was passionate about cricket and soccer.
What appealed to me was the sheer originality of the idea. No one had thought of it before. It would be tough to pull off. It meant bringing all our equipment to India and transporting it from city to city for each event. It meant dealing with ultra-protective sports authorities and suspicious government. In fact our head executive on the project spent night in jail once, over customs dispute. But there was sound business behind it. When you tackle the unconventional, it means you’re bypassing your competition. In fact, you have no competition. And no competition means you have lot of freedom in how you price your services. If customers like your ideas, you can always charge handsome premium for your unconventional thinking.
Unconventional thinking is not only aesthetically appealling but also financially.

2) Neglect goals
Here’s little secret about our company. We don’t set goals for our divisions and executives. At least, not in the conventional sense that we expect this division to grow by 15 percent and that division to grow by 20 percent.
Don’t get me wrong. I like growth as much as the next manager, and I prefer revenue growth to decline. But to me, measuring your growth by annual percentage increases in revenue only provides small picture of what’s really going on. Setting growth targets sounds like something our competitors do to gauge how they’re doing. I’m not interested in what they’re doing, because it’s limiting.
For one thing, setting revenue goals and growth targets is self-fulfilling. In my experience, people rarely, if ever, outperform their set goals. If five percent growth is their target, they’ll hit five percent not 30 percent.
More important, numbers don’t always tell the full story. I would be more satisfied if the head of the $l million division didn’t worry about revenue so much, but devoted his time to say, signing up the four most promising clients in his field. An additional $l million in revenue doesn’t really mean that much to company of our size. But locking up the four most promising clients does. It means the division has future, and we can expect exponential growth at the division for years to come.
I’m not sure our competitors think this way, but we do. And we’re not changing until we think of something better.

Visited 9 times, 1 visit(s) today

Business benefits of privacy

Privacy Week (13-17 May) is a great time to consider the importance of privacy and to help ensure you and your company have good privacy practices in place, writes Privacy

Read More »
Close Search Window