The Secret To Beating Your Competitors when They’re Bigger Than You

I was recently in Australia, visiting my son and grandkids. One of my favorite activities is playing chess with my grandson. Since seeing him just 8 weeks ago, my son has taught him some crazy smart chess moves which caught me by surprise. Here’s what happened. The moment I stepped into the doorway he yelled “grandpa” let’s play chess. I hadn’t even had a chance to shower after 20 grueling hours in the air, when I thought “oh well, this won’t take long” thinking that I would checkmate him in no time at all so that I could freshen up.

After beating him the first game (yes…shame on me for beating up a 6 year old kid but hey, cut me some slack OK? I was TIRED!), he then yelled “CHECKMATE” after just 5 moves. Let me repeat that. He took my freakin king in 5 moves!!!!!

So…readers, what did I learn from this humbling experience.

  1. Don’t get cocky when you win. I have no doubt that the little guy let me win the first time so that I would let my guard down. (Ok OK…I was seriously tired OK?)

  2. Being bigger, stronger, (supposedly) wiser and smarter, does not make a winner. He was more strategic than me and THAT is how he beat me. (He didn’t really have to give me that look!!!)

  3. David DID beat Goliath. Why? Because David was more strategic. Small operators can beat large competitors by being more strategic.

Final message. When working on your business plan:

  1. Think about what your competition is NOT doing. In other words, identify how you differentiate from your competition and ACT ON IT.

  2. Ensure that your team is incentivized in such a way that it drives the right behaviors

  3. You need to measure to manage. Make sure you and your team understands the financial implications of your decisions by identifying all the touch points with each decision. (Cause & effect).  Some examples include: do you have the cash resources to support an increase in sales? How much volume must you sell to offset stepping up costs etc.  You are in business to drive shareholder value by driving profits and sustainable cash flow.

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