In this day and age enterprises are caught in a dilemma: either protect margins and concede market share to competitors or protect market share at the expense of margins.

Strategy is about choosing different ways of competing that are not necessarily good for everybody, but that are uniquely good for you, in your company, given the particular market outcome that you aspire to achieve.

The essence of strategy is tradeoffs - making choices about what you won't do, in order to do other things uniquely well. The weakness of many companies is that they lack the discipline to limit themselves to competing in some business segments while avoiding others. They react to pressure to quickly grow revenue without first considering the strategic impact. Many businesses inadvertently destroy their competitive advantage by attempting to be everything to everybody.

Everyday, you and your employees are making choices - about how to spend your time, about what to say to individual customers, about whom to call on - and those choices are either going to be consistent or inconsistent with your strategy. To ensure sustainable results, you must be diligent in communicating and enforcing the strategic limits of your company.

Sustainable competitive advantage comes from being different. What one must ask is: "How can we, by limiting what we do, by not seeking to serve all customers, by not seeking to offer every product in every geography, how can we, by limiting ourselves, be unique?" That's the essential strategic question you must answer.

The strategic mind set understands tradeoff. The strategic mind set is willing to sacrifice customers and is willing to forgo making customers happy if they're not profitable customers. (Many of our Internet clients will argue that all their customers are unprofitable by design in order to gain market share. But that's consistent with their strategy!)

The strategic mind set is willing to turn down current opportunities for growth if those opportunities are not wholly consistent with the long-term strategy. This means that as the Leader, you have to learn to say "NO" a lot!

In any business, there are countless opportunities to invest money, to incorporate new technologies, to add new features, to chase a new market segment, to respond to a competitor. There's constant pressure from all directions to blur, homogenize, and imitate in the name of "opportunity." So, while you are developing and reinforcing your strategy - communicating how you are different and what you are willing to give up in the name of strategy- you must also have the self-discipline and courage to be the enforcer of those limits. Only by setting limits can you truly be unique. And without being unique, you will have no competitive advantage.

The hallmark of strategic thinking is making those crucial tradeoffs.

You must have the willpower to turn away some customers, pass on some opportunities and abandon some markets in order to focus on what you do best. Most business owners don't want to hear this, because in
the short term, sticking to a core strategy may constrict growth.

But those who have the guts and determination to focus on the areas where they have a unique competitive advantage will build a much stronger, and ultimately, more successful company.

10 Keys to Crafting a Compelling Mission Statement

Most individual or corporate mission statements contain industry buzzwords, are so complex that no one can recite them, and do nothing to inspire. The more elaborate it is, the less likely it is understood and remembered. Having a clear and concise mission statement for yourself and your Company becomes your guiding compass as you journey through life.

1. Your mission is larger than a job
Ideally your job will align with your mission. For example, you could be employed as a teacher while your mission is education. To limit your personality and unique abilities to such boundaries causes a profound loss of identity when your job or career changes. The average person can expect to have seven employment changes in a lifetime.

2. Your mission is much more than your role
We all have various roles we fulfill: spouse, parent, manager, friend...In our culture, men tend to define themselves by what they do professionally. Often, women define themselves by their roles or relationships.
Linking your role to your mission places you in a vulnerable position because your role is likely to change--most notably through death or divorce. Who were you before your roles?

3. Your mission is not your To-Do List
As Stephen Covey so masterfully points out in First Things First, there is a huge distinction between what is important and what is urgent. Most people fill their to-do lists with activities which appear to
require immediate attention. When writing your mission statement, contemplate the big picture and focus on your core values. Develop your mission first, then list corresponding goals. Otherwise, you can be very busy following a to-do list without creating anything worthwhile.

4. You are already living your mission on some level
Living your mission may not require massive changes. You can begin right where you are now. Increase your awareness daily of what's really important to you. What do you want to be known for? Increased focus
allows you to receive, recognize and fully integrate your mission.

5. You are born with a purpose
Everyone's life is important enough to warrant a mission. In the classic movie: It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart portrays a suicidal businessman who experiences what the lives of his friends and loved ones would be like WITHOUT him. Mostly, we don't have this overview or the understanding of how interconnected we are. Every thought we have, word we speak and action we take affects the entire universe.

6. Your mission may not appear to be grand
You don't have to be another Mother Theresa or significantly contribute to the Gross National Product. You've heard the saying: For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the battle was lost. The blacksmith responsible for Paul Revere's horse's feet indirectly helped lead a nation to freedom. Positively affect one life and you can be considered successful.

7. Your mission is a perfect fit for you
Your mission is not something you loathe doing. Years ago, I feared God would want me to be a missionary living in a grass hut and I wanted to postpone this event as long as possible. It was irrational. Think of this: what CEO in his/her right mind would have the sales team switch to accounting? When you are living your mission, you experience pure joy. It is not hard and does not involve suffering. Rather, it resonates with the essence of who you are 100%: at work, at home, at a party and alone. Accept a mission that fits you, not the needs or expectations of others.

8. Your mission is not the same as that of your peers
While crafting your mission statement, temporarily disassociate yourself from your peers. We are often influenced by and take as our own the values and goals of those in our network, thus inhibiting self-discovery. This distancing will allow you to concentrate on what is important and unique to you.

9. Your mission is your true heart's desire
You may be in a career that parallels your dream. I'd like to have a dollar for every magazine editor, advertising copywriter or reporter whose real dream is to be a full-time novelist. Go for the REAL
THING. Ask yourself: Is this the highest thing I could do in my life?

10. Your mission inspires you to take action
Great leaders can state their mission succinctly. Nelson Mandela's mission was to end apartheid; Mother Theresa 's mission is to show compassion to the dying. If you don't feel passionate about your mission, it
isn't your mission. Choose action verbs that are meaningful to you. For example, my mission is to breathe, ignite and magnify personal power. Join the 1% of the people in the world who have a clear sense of who they are and where they are going.

10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself About the Business of Your Business Plan

1. Who is producing the sales for the company? How competent are they?

2. Do they really own the rights, trademarks, license for what they want to sell/offer/manufacture?

3. How much better/special are this company's products/services than their 3 biggest competitors?

4. Have they considered the worst-case scenario in their plan and demonstrated conservatism/reality?

5. Are the principals seasoned business men/women or are they just entrepreneurs excited about an idea?

6. What's the potential for this company's product/service that the principals don't even see?

7. If the product development time/sales-to-cash cycle takes twice as long, will they need more cash?

8. Will this company spawn new products and services quickly or are they a one-trick pony?

9 How expensive are the lifestyles of the principals? What kind of cars? Homes? Do they live too well?

10. What would my kids say about this deal?

Are you ready to get to work?

Call 331-1956 to get down to business.

All content copyright by Dale Bruder unless attributed to others ©2016

STRATEGIC ADVISER Communication Links Voice/Text 520.331.1956

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