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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)

    More by this author

    Royale Scuderi

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

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

    It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

    A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself

    Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

    What does career success mean to you?

    This is about defining your career success:

    • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
    • Not what people may think of you
    • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
    • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

    “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

    When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

    There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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    • Work-life balance
    • Opportunities for growth and advancement
    • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

    Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

    • What do you mean by work-life balance?
    • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
    • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

    Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

    • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
    • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
    • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

    Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

    • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
    • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
    • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

    Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

    Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

    What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

    2. Know Your Values

    Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

    There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

    Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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    • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
    • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
    • Put the words on your fridge
    • Add the words on your vision board

    Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

    How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

    Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

    • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
    • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
    • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
    • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
    • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
    • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

    Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

    • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
    • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
    • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
    • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

    Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

    By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

    4. Determine Your Top Talents

    What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

    What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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    What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

    What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

    What do you notice?

    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

    Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

    I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

    Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

    Keep these words visible too!

    Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

    6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

    Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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    Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

    “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

    7. Manage Your Own Career

    Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

    Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

    Summing Up

    For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

    Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

    Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself
    2. Know Your Values
    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
    4. Determine Your Top Talents
    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
    6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
    7. Manage Your Own Career

    “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

    Good luck and best wishes always!

    More Tips on Advancing Your Career

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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