This past weekend, the world witnessed a record-breaking feat when 21-year-old Jordan Spieth was outfitted with the grand-prize green jacket at one of golf’s biggest events – the Masters at Augusta National. In his performance, Spieth accomplished something few Masters champions have done – to break from the pack and stay the course for the entire tournament.
Breaking from the pack and staying the course aren’t just important on the golf course, but in the course of running a business. Today, more than ever, it’s critical to find ways to pull ahead of the competition – and stay there. Here are some pointers to help you:
Assess the field. What’s the competition for your product or service? You not only need to assess your competitors today, but also look ahead to anticipate who they will be tomorrow. Once you know who they are, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their products or services.
Know your game. It’s also critical to know your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Are there target markets and geographic areas that are more favorable to you? Analyze where you are at your best and where you can improve. If a competitor does something better than you, find out what it is and how you can surpass them.
Plan ahead – and stay the course. Where do you want your business to go? Create a business plan so you can not only determine where you want to be, but also have a course map to guide you how to get there.
Challenge yourself. Your fiercest competitor shouldn’t be the business across the street; it should be you. How can you challenge yourself to make your company and your products and services better?
Get outside advice. Even golf pros need outside advice and guidance from their caddies. Talk to different people – your customers, bankers, industry experts, etc. – to learn about trends, needs, and opportunities to improve and excel.
Practice what you do best. If you’re good at something – servicing customers, delivering products – keep at it and let your customers and prospects know about it.
Update your equipment. If you can leverage the power of technology to better serve your customers or improve efficiency, you can get a powerful competitive advantage.
Love what you do. For many people, golf is a passion. Your business should also be a passion. When you love what you do, it shows. Your prospects may sense your passion and want to do business with you.
Lead by example. As a business owner, you are the role model for your employees. If you conduct yourself with honor and integrity, they will follow your example.
You won’t get a green jacket by following these simple tips, but you may be able to do something even better: stay the course in the black.