From the beginning, your business or organization was founded on a vision. Whether your business provides a completely unique product or service, is based on a completely unique vision, or you simply determined that you could offer an existing product or service in a unique way – your business started with an idea, a creative spark, and was born from a determination to provide something unique and to achieve success.

What Is Your Long-Term Vision?

Now that you’ve become an established entrepreneur, what do you rely on every day to pull ahead of the competition? Maintaining a profitable business or keeping your organization stable is certainly better than failing, but being complacent now can often lead to disaster – this is true of the smallest businesses all the way up to the largest corporations. If you don’t develop a strategy and vision that not only guides your business day-to-day, but month-to-month and year-to-year, then one of your competitors can easily develop an innovative new product or service, or an innovative new way to provide an existing product or service, and your business could be hindered or even sunk – sometimes overnight! What are some of the ways you can develop a strategy and a vision and pull your business ahead of your competition?

Continue To Educate And Train Yourself And Your Staff

One of the most common and damaging ways that an individual or business can stagnate and set themselves up to be eclipsed by a competitor is by neglecting to educate, train and stay informed of advancements within your industry. No company or organization would think to hire an office worker who is unfamiliar with a personal computer and office productivity software, but if your expertise, knowledge and skills are out-of-date, why would a customer or client want to work with you over one of your competitors after a preliminary comparison?

Monitor You Industry’s Trends

Depending on a number of different factors, including the complexity of your industry and the rate of technological advancement, you may need to sporadically or continually train yourself and your employees. The expense and hassle of pulling yourself or your employees away from work and investing in training can first appear to be costly, but over time the alternative can prove to be costlier still. Even if you operate within an industry that has little to no innovation or technological advancement, it is still important to monitor industry news or subscribe to trade publications to stay aware of trends that could be affecting other markets and potentially even your competitors.

Stay Refined and Lean

Another rut that many businesses fall into is bloat. Essentially, in order to stay competitive, it is often necessary to eliminate the unnecessary expense and waste from your company while boosting the value of your product or service. Unfortunately, many managers and entrepreneurs interpret bloat and waste to primarily refer to cutting employees they feel are unproductive or unnecessary, or conserving wasted resources such as an overused copier. While personnel and office expenses can be a significant and costly drain on a company’s resources, they are certainly not the beginning and end of your business bloat – in fact, although it may be difficult to accept, your own products and services may be full of bloated features or services that aren’t perceived as valuable to customers. It is important to study how your customers are utilizing your product or service, and pay close attention to things they may turn down or quickly disregard.

Keeping One Step Ahead

Simply by eliminating an unwanted or bloated feature from your product or service, you can sometimes replace it with a feature that enhances or boosts its value with potential customers, without subsequently increasing your expenses. Not only does constantly refining your products and your business keep you competitive in the present, but it also teaches you how to quickly adapt to a changing marketplace, allowing you to hopefully stay one step ahead of your competition and focused on the future!