After years of hard work, long hours and countless phone calls, meetings and pep talks with your employees, your business has reached your revenue goals and is a major player in its market and industry. Now what? Despite most entrepreneurs fighting to become the leader among competitors, achieving success can be anticlimactic. It is a dangerous position because it can be extremely difficult to maintain and invites complacency.
The company strategy and objectives can provide some insight into how you can combat this temptation. Take a look at the documents' wording - does it convey a mission or provide explicit revenue and market position targets? Have you outlined plans for how to sustain a certain level of success, or did you only get as far as explaining how you planned to get there?
Engage in a planning process for long-term success
As you regularly update your company's operating model and long-term goals, it is important to take an assessment of your current standing and identify any potential threats or roadblocks that could prevent you from preserving or advancing that position. If you do not create a strategy that incorporates the actions of your competitors and how you plan to counteract them (through new product offerings, greater value-added service for clients and increased operational efficiency), you risk falling behind the pack. Do not allow your organization to succumb to the one-step-forward, two-steps-back trend plaguing businesses that do not constantly strive for self-improvement.
This issue reminded me of a piece about the technology market published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. The authors, Kyle Murray and Gerald Häubl, contend that in an industry that is saturated with options but is dominated by a few powerful groups, a failure to offer new products to clients can reduce their loyalty and force them to pursue services of competitors.
In order to sustain market leadership, companies need to engage in technological innovation, keep life cycles of products short, promote their offerings, maintain capital strength and respond to evolving market structures. Companies must also battle consumers' behavioral tendency to turn away from market leaders when they feel they have lost the freedom to choose. To combat this, Murray and Häubl say businesses should steer away from branding themselves as overly dominant or successful.
Resist the urge to hit cruise control once you have met your one-, three- and 10-year objectives. Now is not the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor if you want to stay on top. Rather, you must work harder than ever before to keep a strong hold on your position and continue driving forward on innovation, client experience and revenue.