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5 Things to Consider if You Want to Stay Competitive

5 Things to Consider if You Want to Stay Competitive


    Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or manager, you have to pay attention to the business landscape and your place in it if you want to be successful. You don’t want to get caught languishing by the side of the road as the rest of the marketplace rushes by you. It’s important to assess where you are now and how you can maintain, regain, or create a competitive edge over the crowd.

    What You Need to Consider

    1. Branding

    What do you do and what sets you apart?

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    Branding is the buzzword of the day, maybe the decade. Though possibly overused, the concept is still an important one. Branding is far more than a memorable tag-line, catchy logo, or impressive elevator speech. The primary value of branding is in clarifying precisely what makes you different, what you have to offer that makes you stand out from the bulk of competitors in the marketplace. Branding is the cornerstone of any successful marketing plan.

    2. Relationships

    What do people care about and what needs do they have?

    Getting to know and understand people is vital. The key is to focus on quality over quantity. Masses of social media connections matter less than relationships with people who can directly influence the success or failure of the business. Current and prospective customers, as well as employees and professional connections have the most relevant opinions and useful feedback to offer. It’s imperative to communicate, listen, and build relationships with those who can impact the future of your business.

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    3. Leveraging

    What are your areas of efficiency and areas of weakness?

    Small businesses and entrepreneurs tend to be resource poor. It’s just the nature of not having a large cash flow at their disposal. The most successful excel at squeezing the maximum value out of available time, money, and talent. Their strategy is to do what they do best and delegate or outsource the rest. Essentially, they know how to Do More with Less.

    They spend their time on activities that provide more value, those activities that increase revenue or help the company to grow. What they don’t do is waste their time on activities that provide little or no value. While it may seem counter-intuitive to pay others to do tasks that could be done in house, it’s often more efficient and profitable in the long run. Leveraging unproductive activities saves time and money, by increasing the focus on the most valuable tasks.

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    4. Growth

    Where are the opportunities for growth?

    Complacency and stagnation are red flags that portend a grim outlook for future success. The danger lies in placing so much of our focus on digging in, completing current projects and managing small crises that we forget to be open to change and creative innovation. Unfortunately, this negatively affects our position in the business market and diminishes our competitive advantage.

    It’s critical to keep one eye focused on growth, evolution, and innovation. If you don’t, you will fade into the crowd while other more forward thinking businesses surge ahead, leaving you in their dust. This sounds overwhelming and somewhat intimidating when you barely have enough time and energy to focus on current needs, but it doesn’t have to be. All that’s really required is that you stay open to new opportunities and consistently take steps — even small ones — to keep growing and moving forward.

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    Growth takes many forms. It might be revising an existing process, updating skills, investing in new equipment or learning a new technology. It also might take the form of more significant changes such as shifting careers or business models, or launching a new product or service.

    5. Balance

    What do you need? What are you neglecting? What would make you work and life more enjoyable?

    Balancing priorities and the different aspects of our life is the foundation for building a successful and personally fulfilling career or business. Modern society is buzzing with the work-life balance conversation, but often we misconstrue the meaning of balance, or at least the real world application of the concept. It’s not about trying to allot equal portions of attention, time, and energy to the separate parts or even making one a priority over the other. It’s more about discovering that right combination of shifting importance and focus that can meet the ever-changing demands of work life and personal life while still leaving us feeling happy and fulfilled, and not on society’s terms, but on our own.

    Success and fulfillment requires that we pay attention to where we are, how we’re doing, and where we’d like to be. If we can figure out what sets us apart, how we need to grow and what we need to do to keep moving forward, then we can begin to apply our focus and resources – namely time, energy and money – in a way that allows us to continue to thrive.

    (Photo credit: Businessman Moving Chess Pieces via Shutterstock)

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    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Published on October 8, 2019

    How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

    How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

    The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

    The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

    By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

    1. Define What Success Is for You

    There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

    Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

    2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

    Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

    Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

    3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

    It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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    By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

    4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

    A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

    One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

    5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

    You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

    Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

    6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

    If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

    Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

    7. Pick Up Some New Skills

    Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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    By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

    8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

    Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

    If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

    9. Make Yourself Indispensable

    Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

    It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

    10. Get Off the Fence

    People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

    If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

    11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

    If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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    Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

    12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

    If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

    Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

    13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

    Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

    Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

    14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

    Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

    A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

    15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

    The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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    Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

    16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

    Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

    Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

    17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

    It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

    Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

    18. Join a Professional Organization

    The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

    Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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