June 14, 2011


Snowy woods 500x755To get a competitive edge
  1. avoid trade conferences
  2. ditch common coaches
  3. monitor another world

Trade Conferences

There's little point going where your competitors gather. That's one of Tom Stanley's  many valuable lessons in Networking With Millionaires. Yet conferences and trade shows are packed with your competitors. How do you get ahead when you're learning the same things at the same time in the same way?

If you want to copy what others are already doing, learning from them is fine. However, times change. What worked then or for them may not work now or for you. If you're forging your own path, you'll get better results by learning elsewhere and applying those lessons to your business. That's how I learned how to build trust with social media years before my competitors even started.

Coaches Smoaches

If you want coaching, avoid the coaches your competitors use. Unless you want to be like them.

Here's the key question: could your coach give you referrals? If you have competitors in the room, the answer is no. You're nothing but a customer. The revenue flows one way: from you to them.

If you get coaching elsewhere, you might get referrals from the coach. In a workshop setting, you could find new clients or referral sources among your fellow students. Learning + Earning.

If you get coaching elsewhere, you'll get different perspectives too. Yes, there's more effort in transferring skills to your business. That's good because your competitors will have difficulty copying you.

Another World

You can also learn by observing a different business and transferring what works to your sphere. Watching is free.

Look for a past-paced, innovative world. When I developed insurance products at National Life, I focused on consumer electronics (including computers). This lab showed how ideas spread and how the world was changing (e.g., due to the Internet, low cost manufacturing in China and the fascination with novelty). Becoming aware of trends and possibilities helps you implement ideas before your competitors even notice that fundamental changes have occurred.

Here are three examples
  1. The fast pace of adoption (half of Apple's revenue comes from a product that didn't exist until four years ago: the iPhone).
  2. The migration of GPS from an expensive novelty to a basic in smartphones. The shift from boring commodities (e.g., Dell) to elegant design (e.g., Apple).
  3. Launches with mass market pricing. Apple could have priced the iPad at $999 US instead of $499 but adoption would have been slower. In contrast, optional car features like HID-headlights or Bluetooth integration start in the flagship models and take years to become standard equipment in lesser models.
You may choose to observe a different world. Maybe cars or golf or ecology. What you see may not translate directly to your business but you never know ...

Opportunity awaits along the less trodden paths.


PS Yogi Berra said you can observe a lot just by watching. Yes, if  you avoid where your competitors are looking.

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