Five Steps to Keeping Ahead of the Pack

We’ve all been mesmerized this week with the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  And whether or not you feel killing him (or anyone for that matter) was the right thing, here’s a quick analysis of how the world’s greatest villain the world has ever seen rose and fell so quickly.

And what we entrepreneurs can learn from it.

In the early years, Bin Laden began by being in touch with the struggle and strife of many people in Afghanistan during the war with the USSR.

He created a grand vision for a new world order:  rid the Arab countries of their leaders and replace them with Islamic rule.  Bin Laden quickly mobilized a team around this vision and created a series of joint ventures with other like-minded organizations.

He even got tremendous external support and financing for his vision.

Bin Laden was quite skilled at branding an image for himself that he leveraged to rapidly grow his network.  And finally, he incorporated new strategies and technologies the world had never seen before nor was not ready to handle to realize his vision:

Terrorism on a grand scale.

That was Osama Bin Laden’s rise.

His fall was created because his rise was not sustainable.  By threatening and using terror to deliver his message, Bin Laden increasingly isolated himself.

One that would force him into hiding and cut him off from that what had him rise so quickly.

After almost 10 years of being disconnected from his teams and bases of support, Bin Laden became largely ineffective and arguably, obsolete.

Still it took almost 10 years for all this to catch up with him, which happened Monday, May 1st, 2011.

This rudimentary description of a man whom so many of us have grown to despise is an extreme example of what happens to businesses every day, when entrepreneurs stop evolving and keeping up with their industry and profession.


Five Steps to Continuously Evolving Your Business:

1)   Assess Needs—your industry needs are always changing.  Even more so today than just a few years ago.  And quicker.  Your solutions, while originally effective, may no longer be relevant.  Start by determining today’s needs of your industry and target customer.

2)   Study Trends—identify “what’s hot and what’s not” in your industry. You should do this at least every six months, as what was once “in” may no longer be.  What are the trends today and what will they most likely be tomorrow?

3)   Incorporate the Environment—address the impact of your business and industry on the planet.  Much more than just being the responsible thing to do, your customers and industry increasingly demand it.  It is very difficult to compete effectively in today’s market without having your environmental position.

4)   Include Stakeholders—embrace social media, online marketing, and instant global communication.  It is increasingly unlikely for a business to stay in front without engaging their communities, employees, vendors, partners, customers and financiers.

5)   Integrate Technologies—the newest and most effective technologies are paramount to the evolution of your company.  Knowing the newest forms of innovations, science and solutions in your industry is directly correlated to your ongoing success.

Successful businesses, those businesses that consistently stay ahead of the market and do very well, utilize and leverage these five steps.  They also have a commitment to evolving their businesses constantly.

Just know that companies like Apple, Google, 3M, and Proctor and Gamble consistently stay ahead of the curve because they follow these steps.

They encourage all their stakeholders to help evolve the company by innovating some really great products and services for their customers.

How about your company?

Staying relevant is simply a commitment to constantly evolving.


Action Steps for the Week

First, get clear on the need(s) in your industry.  Today, not yesterday!

Next look at where the trend is going.  Once you have a handle on that, look to see how you can integrate both the social and environmental components and position your company as a leader in your industry.

Then look to see what your competition is doing and how what you have determined is the way to go is better and/or different than them.

From there develop an implementation strategy, which includes a way to authentically leverage what you are doing in the media and with your stakeholders.

Remember, the more UnReasonable you are in evolving your business, the more likely you will be seen as a leader in your industry.