In association with Avondale
It’s a competitive world out there and gaining a competitive advantage has never been more difficult or important. Kevin Uphill; chairman of Avondale, explains why you need to predict the future direction of the market and transform your business to be fit for the future.
The world is changing; global communication and information is becoming more readily available. Today, just having scale and capital will no longer ensure success. Instead businesses must be open, agile and adaptable to trends to maintain an edge over the competition and research and innovation is critical. Today’s big goal is not simply to seek out incremental gains in efficiency, but to understand the market and be quick on your feet to respond to trends and the direction of an increasingly fluid market.
Strategy and innovation
Being strategic and innovative is critical to success. Like Chess players, business leaders should be proactive; thinking several moves ahead. Where is the market going? What can we do to ensure we stay ahead of the curve? Who are our customers and what will they want from us? Where can we gain strategic competitive advantage? Being anticipatory of market developments means that, as a business leader, you will be able to take major steps towards transforming business models in advance of change.
It’s about being proactive rather than reactive. Previously, businesses might have been defined by the present and the past, but to achieve a truly competitive edge, business leaders need to look towards, and take ownership of, the future. Some will say you can’t predict the future, but while single events might be challenging, it is possible to foresee and plan for long term market trends.
The age of the web
The internet has proved to be a game changer in this respect – it has brushed aside many traditional media and, as it does so, placed the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips. This means that with a little time, effort and forethought, the future becomes visible and predictable in a way it never has before.
How does this benefit an organisation? First of all it reduces stress and opens up more options. Knowledge is power and the more business leaders scrutinise the future the easier it is to make profitable decisions. However, this doesn’t mean leaders should abandon their instincts. Gut feel is the result of accumulated experience – over many years – and although it’s hard to define, that instinctive feeling can also be useful. It’s all too easy to become obsessed by the numbers and miss the bigger picture.
All of this may feel easier said than done. Many business leaders struggle to see how their businesses can stand apart from the crowd today – let alone in the future, but it is possible. The more you examine a business and workshop its various components, the more you discover key opportunities to find that advantage. Almost every business has something it does well – a key differentiator that sets it above the competition. Sometimes they are taken for granted and ignored – but if harnessed in the right way they can give a company a crucial advantage.
To sum up; the game changers of the next ten to 20 years will devote time and effort to the future; to use research to identify key differentiators to place their business in a competitive position. They will identify key trends and read the future direction of the market to determine the optimal course.
This approach levels the playing field. Competitive advantage will not be the reserve of the larger powerful organisations; instead it will be something smaller and more nimble players will be able to grab.
The views expressed in blogs such as the above are those of the author and do not represent the views of the Institute of Directors.
Creating Competitive Advantage Conference: Strategies for Success in Changing Markets
To learn more about how you can create competitive advantage and stay ahead, our conference on 7 February 2017 at 116 Pall Mall, will turn you into a trend expert and equip both you and your business with the right tools.
There has never been a more important time for business leaders to be agile. But how do you stay ahead of the pack when the economic environment is global, ultra-competitive and in a state of flux?
IoD members can access discounts from Avondale, the IoD’s preferred provider of business sales, acquisition and strategy services.
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Kevin Uphill enables business owners to enhance equity value, and maximise business sales and acquisitions via mentoring. Working with his team, he is also a successful lead dealmaker through his professional practice, Avondale. As well as being a business strategist, he runs a series of thought-provoking, content-rich and inspirational keynote speeches, seminars and masterclasses – regularly endorsed internationally – for creating business growth and transaction success.
Kevin Uphill is a member of IoD Surrey.