Op-Ed

Five keys to building a resilient business and winning through different market cycles

Your organization’s success depends on its resilience through different market cycles. In this article, I will teach you how to help your organization capture new growth opportunities and how to become ready for the future.

The following five keys will help you see what is most important, so you and your team can prioritize. The following set formula will help you and your team devise a strategy and build resilience into your business.

Play to win

Identify the most powerful forces that will soon shape your sector and how best to leverage them to you and your organizations’ advantage.

There are two types of businesses in the world – those playing to win (think Zappos, Starbuck’s, and Apple), and those playing so as not to lose.

Playing to win is about growth. Playing not to lose is about survival. A decade ago, for example, it would have been difficult to imagine a McDonald’s menu offering the salad choices of today or a happy meal with options for apple slices and yogurt snacks instead of fries. McDonald’s remains a player that is out to win because as the health consciousness of customers has changed, so too has its menu.

Companies that play to win are in a constant battle to increase their market share and presence, profits, and opportunities. These organizations always compare their results to their last goals. The focus on outperforming their own records not only is related to the next key but is a recipe for growth.

Be continually learning

Continuous learning is the process of learning new skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. This can come in many forms, from formal course taking to casual social learning. It involves self-initiative and taking on challenges. Continuous learning can be with and organization, or it can be personal, such as in lifelong learning.

The skills and knowledge of a workforce determine its competitive advantage or disadvantage in the marketplace. People need to learn new knowledge or skills to see things in a new light and take their next steps. When organizations do not support a continual process of learning, innovation does not happen, processes remain unchanged, and nothing new is accomplished. Continuous learning benefits the organization in three important ways:

Knowledge applied is power – the more employees know and the more they can do, the more they can contribute to the organization.

More cost effective – investing in the development of employees is less expensive than re-hiring and re-training new employees.

Shows that employees are valued – support of continuous learning indicates that employees are worth the investment and the organization is genuine about employee career development.

Continuous learning is the key to success. Learning opens our minds and eyes to understanding and seeing the bigger picture. Knowledge knows no boundaries, the more we know, the better decisions we will make in the organization and in life.

Be agile to adapt

Traditional approaches to strategy making – though often seen as the answer to change and uncertainty – assume a stable and predictable world. The percentage of companies falling out of the top three rankings in their industry from two percent in 1960 to 14 percent in 2008. The one strong correlation between profitability and industry share is now almost non-existent in some sectors. The value proposition of the advice share in this article is that it considers application by individuals and organizations who can go from market leader one year to follower the next.

Instead of being average at doing something, companies must be good at learning how to do new things. Those that thrive are quick to read and act on signals of change. To build a resilient business, you and I will have to experiment rapidly, frequently, and economically – not only with products and services but also with business models, processes, and strategies.

If your industry is stable and predictable, you may be better off sticking to traditional sources of advantage. But if your competitive reality is uncertain and rapidly changing, as is true in an increasing number of industries, you need a dynamic and sustainable way to stay ahead.

Do not underestimate your competition

Most business schools teach or suggest that business is competition. In my own opinion, these advocates could not be more wrong. When we assume that we must compete with other businesses or people for money, jobs, or attention, we are engaged in limited thinking. Instead, I propose that we should not underestimate our competition but adopt an abundance mindset.

Wallace D. Wattles, one of the pioneers of personal development and popular authors, said it best: “You get rid of the thought of competition. You are to create, not to compete for what is already created. You do not have to take anything from anyone.” We must believe in an abundant world. There is enough opportunity for everyone.

Embrace chaos to drive change

It does not matter what others think. If you believe in something and if you can create value, go for it. There are always people who will say things like, “No one needs this,” “Your work is rubbish,” “You are wasting your time.” Do not listen to naysayers, instead, embrace chaos and create.

Building a resilient business and winning is possible and is challenging work. There are enough opportunities for everyone; the problem is that most people are not aware of the opportunities or do not use the opportunities that are available. Play to win, continually learn, adapt, and create value. Before you know it, you will have so many opportunities, that you will not know what to do with them all.

• Eliot Kelly is recognized as a serial entrepreneur, business coach and mentor and has been featured on CNN, BBC Three’s Be Your Own Boss and an extensive list of magazines and articles. His five books have been translated in over seven languages and sold in twenty-nine countries, recently being shortlisted for Best Self-Help and Best Advice Books 2019 by The Author Academy. Contact him via his website at www.eliotkelly.co.uk, email at info@eliotkelly.co.uk and Twitter via @eliotkellyofficial.

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