If you are like most people in business, you strive to be the best. Heck, we all do, right? Problem is, so many businesses strive to be the best. But most entrepreneurs try to be the best by measuring themselves against the competition. Sound familiar?
You probably know what this looks like because you have been doing it for so long. You focus on what the competition does, and then what you can do that is better, right? But this is like running a race while looking back the entire time! In fact, it can really slow you down, which is the opposite of what you are seeking.
A More Effective Approach
The better way to go about improving your company is through an exercise I call “Utopia Corp.” This is something that I did with my business which was very successful at telling me everything that hawking the competition couldn’t.
For this experiment, I got 12 of my employees together and broke them into four teams with three on each team. Each team was given the mission of spending one hour preparing for a pretend sales presentation where their imaginary company was “Utopia Corp.” This company was going for a $1 million project, and they were competing against our actual company.
The idea behind this exercise was to have them explain, in their sales presentation, why and how they were better than our own company. That’s right, their mission was to find the weaknesses in our own company and present them to yours truly. I have tough skin and can take it, as you should, too!
You may think that this is something you can just do yourself, without getting your employees involved. But you would be wrong. Here’s the dealio -- you will have a difficult time picking up on the weaknesses in your company. We all do! But your employees already know what some of the company weaknesses are; you just need to scratch that surface and get them to be brutally honest and share that information with you.
What better way is there than to have your own employees compete in this little exercise, focused on picking out all the weak spots they can think of about your company? By the end of the exercise, you will have dozens of ideas about areas where your company needs to improve. Given that, you will never need to look at your competition again.
It’s time to stop spinning your wheels and looking in the rearview mirror at what your competition is doing. Instead, focus on becoming your own competition. With a little exercise like this, you will quickly see what was there all along -- the areas you need to improve on, in order to get ahead. Because, after all, being a leader at this or a world’s best at that is really more about you and what your company is doing than about what anyone else is doing.
Capitalizing on It
When you think about it, the best thing you can do is take yourself out of the competition. After all, competition is a contest, and there is always going to be a loser or someone who comes in second place. Instead, run your own race, always finish, and you will come out ahead!
Oh, and once you have the list of your company’s weaknesses, spend some time mulling them over. If there are items on there that should be legitimately addressed, take the time to do so. It’s either that, or you can keep looking back at your competition, hoping you can find your way to the finish line without tripping over your own feet.
Mike Michalowicz is the Author of the business cult-classic, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Michalowicz has built three multi-million dollar companies, is a frequent expert guest on MSNBC, CNBC, ABC and other television networks, and is a nationally renowned speaker. His website is ToiletPaperEntrepreneur.com and his book is available at Amazon.com and all major book stores.