IN a world of increasing global competition, many businesses are progressively working towards increasing their levels of competitiveness. Competitive business enterprises are those firms that manage all of their resources and competencies to increase profits. It is therefore important to learn important lessons from other businesses that have successfully increased their level of competitiveness in both the regional and international markets. These lessons can be tweaked to suit the conditions of other up and coming entrepreneurs or businesses in the local economy.
Entrepreneurs usually start out with a brilliant idea, product or culture that they hope to be different and stand out among the many. While it is important to take small steps at a time and to focus on the job at hand, they can envision their venture becoming one of the greatest ones that has the potential to become highly successful.
Unfortunately, it does not always turn out this way. Even a brilliant idea may not materialise the way intended. Even viral successful businesses or entrepreneurs have fizzled out in time. For example Henry Ford ruined his reputation with a couple of failed automobile businesses. However, he was able to find a partner who had faith in him. Ford learnt from his mistakes and went on to establish the Ford Motor Company that went on to change the automobile industry.
The truth is markets can be brutally competitive. Therefore, entrepreneurs need to ask the question: What distinguishes the few entrepreneurs that make it over the long haul from the thousands that don’t? There are some actions that entrepreneurs can take early to set the stage for successful competitive businesses in the future. The following are some fundamental principles for competitive businesses:
Be passionate and make sure you enjoy what you are doing. The most successful entrepreneurs love working on their ventures; they cannot imagine themselves doing anything else. These are the type of people who respond to emails from their clients at all hours of the night and cannot help pitch their company to every single guest at a party. Inspiration creates a drive to take the business seriously and to keep focused when there are moments of doubt especially when they come from you or others.
A closed mind is a death sentence for your business. When entrepreneurs have poured their energy, life savings and untold hours into the business, it is hard to stay open-minded about where it needs to go to be better. Entrepreneurs usually start with an idea and thematically it is correct and makes sense, but there may be flaws in some way. Therefore, adjustments must be made to the business model. Entrepreneurship is a discovery process, not one of failure so mistakes are to be expected.
Focus on the customer. The business should be all about your customers or clients. The customers are the people who will ultimately decide whether the business will be successful or not. All aspects of the business must be customer focused, including policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising, promotional campaign and website. In addition, the customer must be known inside out. Consider Zappos one of the world’s largest online clothing and shoe stores founded by entrepreneur- Nick Swinmurn. The company uses call centre technology to track average call time per agent. However, the goal is not to reduce this average, but more importantly to create an emotional connection with the customer, rather than quickly getting off the phone.
Hire people who are smarter than you. There will always be people who are smarter than you. If you are lucky enough to find these people, hire them. Focus on the things that you are best at and allow them the freedom to do the same.
Entrepreneurship is considered an important activity in increasing a country’s competitiveness and growth. New and unique business ventures have become important to many countries because they contribute significantly to job creation. More importantly, entrepreneurs play a key role in creating value in a unique way through creative business ideas and innovation in the market. Entrepreneurship contributes to competitiveness by introducing innovation, bringing about market changes, enhancing rivalry and creating competition.
The National Competitiveness & Productivity Council (NCPC) was established to recommend reforms that would boost Saint Lucia’s level of competitiveness. Additionally, the Council is looking forward to collaborating with key stakeholders on reforms and projects to provide an added boost and in support of entrepreneurial activity in the local economy in the near future.
(For more information contact the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council on Second (2nd) floor, Financial Centre Building, Bridge Street, Castries. We can also be contacted at 468 -5571/5576/5552 or visit the Council’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stluciancpc or email at [email protected])