Wednesday, April 29, 2009


There is an article in the WSJ about small businesses getting creative to offer new products to compete and win in a tough market. The article is New and Improved deals with the fact that you can not just sell the same products to the same customers in a tough economy unless you are satisfied with declining profits. You need to try new and improved approaches.

The lessons in the article can be applied to each of us personally in our careers, to the group we run, to the company we run or to any other organization of which we are a part. What do we do really well? Break it down to skills not just the product or service. What do we think the market will need going forward? How can we differentiate ourselves?

Yes, I realize these questions are pretty basic and taught in every marketing 101 course. However, we all fall into the trap of this is what we do/sell and when times get tough we just try harder to do whatever "it" is, instead of questioning the basic assumptions in a new light in a new market. The examples in the article are simple and refreshing.

Years ago, I was with the top leaders of one of the current Big Four Accounting firms. I was suggesting a new strategic direction that could differentiate the firm. The CEO responded that none of the other firms was heading in that direction and therefore he did not think they should try it. Hmmm, isn't that the definition of a differentiated strategy? I would have been fine with an answer that said he disagreed with me, as many do, but to dismiss it because no one else was doing it is how people miss opportunities. Don't miss your opportunity to create the new and improved version of yourself, your group, or your company!

Now, if I were an entrepreneur, I might have started a competing accounting service and maybe there would be the Big Five now. Oh well, spending time with all of you is more fun.

Until Next Time,

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