Winning at Business

Jamie loves to play tennis, but her game has recently plateaued. A highly competitive player, she always keeps the score in the forefront of her mind—a distraction that often negatively impacts her play. Weekly she receives the same advice from her coach, “Keep your eye on the ball.  If you play the game well, the score will take care of itself.” 

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We all know that at some level, business is a game. The financial reports are the scorecard. Too often the focus is on the score rather than how the game is played. Excessive attention to the bottom line may distract decision makers from focusing on effectively playing the game. Three aspects of playing the game well include knowing your business’s competitive advantage (along with having a strategic plan to maximize it), making sure each employee is an engaged part of the team, and personalizing your customer service.

What is your competitive advantage and what have you done to develop your strategic plan?

Each business is unique. Each member of the team has unique skills and experiences which can be leveraged to enhance the company’s competitive advantage. Connecting with customers who will most benefit from this business advantage is accomplished by developing an effective strategic plan. If you can’t define this advantage for your business, take time to gather information through interviews or questionnaires to see how employees, customers, and others view you and your business. This is also a good way to identify any weaknesses that you were unaware of. You will see trends develop. Once you have determined one or two strengths on which you’d like to focus, it’s time to develop a strategic plan. How will you let current customers and others know the advantages of using your business? This focused approach will help attract customers looking for just what your business offers. 

How are you inspiring your employees?

Start by sharing your strategic plan with your employees. Without their enthusiastic cooperation, your endeavor will never be as successful as it could be. Early in the process, take time to listen to your employees—they often have valuable insights. Their input is a key component of developing the competitive advantage and strategic plan for your business. Additionally, employee ideas for improving communication and workflow can be invaluable. Work with your employees to assure each feels his/her skills are being maximized. It may be that some employees need additional training or even replacement. Enthusiastic adoption of your business strategy is dependent on each employee feeling they are a key player on the team.

What are you doing to engender customer loyalty?

Today’s customers expect excellent customer service. Unfortunately, this expectation is largely unmet. The best businesses are not striving for one-and-done customer interactions. They work to develop long-term relationships focused on customer success. This success often leads to future engagements as additional needs are identified. High-quality, personalized customer experiences establish trust and promote the satisfaction and retention of current customers. Giving employees the authority to provide quality customer service is essential. The customer experience is greatly enhanced when any glitch is dealt with efficiently and timely. The satisfaction of a happy, successful customer can be at least as rewarding as an increased bottom line, and this type of customer service usually results in both. 

Successfully playing the game of business involves focusing on understanding and developing a competitive advantage, developing a strategic plan to make the most of that advantage, engaging employees as key players on the business team and, most importantly, providing the type of personalized customer service today’s savvy consumers expect. The resulting financial reports are likely to reflect a winning score.