Hey gang, AJ here….my daughter runs cross country and here’s what she told me before yesterday’s race, “You win by starting fast and staying in front of the pack.” I was stunned by her simple strategy…not just because it really works for cross country running, but because of how insightful it is for business too. Why? Well I think that there are at least three important ways this strategy applies to business:
- “Leaders run their own race”: If you’re with the leaders you’ll be able to focus on running the way you run best. In business this means you can focus on your best play and concentrate on your competitive strengths that are reliable and that enhance your uniqueness in the eyes of your customers! Being out front means you are running the race your way.
- Pack runners waste their energy dodging the competition: If you’re running in the pack you are probably wasting energy short stepping, bumping into competition, and trying not to trip/wipe out. In business you want to spend your time and effort proactively delivering on your unique service proposition, not reacting to the competition. Are you more worried about tripping on the competition or moving your business forward your way?
- “The race is pretty much over after about the first 1/4 mile”: The actual first place runner may not be known until the finish line, but at the 1/4 mile mark, it is pretty clear which runners won’t finish in the money! In business, it is very difficult to make up ground on established market leaders so you always need to keep them within striking distance. If you aren’t near the front defining the pace and the market standards then you will just be one of the many companies in the pack working hard just to eat dirt. If you’re going to run hard anyway, you might as well run to win.
- “Am I running with, a. the pack, or b. breaking away?”
- If you answered #1 with “a”, then ask: “How can I protect/increase my lead?”
- If you answered #1 with “b”, then ask: “Can I be a lead runner in this race?”
- If you answered #3 “yes”, then ask: “What should I be doing to break free of the pack?”
- If you answered #3″no”, then ask: “Am I in the right race?”
By the way, my daughter has consistently been finishing “in the money” at her races…nice, eh?