Franchise Articles

Posted on Feb 23, 2011

Bankruptcy or Best-In-Class?

In this article I’d like to share some ideas about business success from two extremes: total business/franchise failure or becoming the best in the world at what you do.

Several years ago I attended a conference of bankruptcy lawyers and on the final day of the event I asked a panel of the top lawyers present what they felt was the “pattern” of why businesses… went out of business. They looked at each other and smiled and one of the most senior lawyers said, “That's easy John, it is the Four I’s.”

Ignorance: not paying attention to the marketplace, the customer and the competition. Not striving for continuous improvement. Not being dedicated to lifelong learning and professional development.

Inflexibility: even though you know your business is in trouble, not being able to make the changes – or get your people to make the changes - necessary to turn things around.

Indifference: thinking that other companies might be in trouble… but that YOU do not have to change. You have been in business 20 years, or you are the market leader, or you think your customers are more loyal... so your business is safe.

Inconsistency: this is the opposite problem from the three above… changing so much that your business never gets any traction. Every time the boss reads a new management book the company has a new management direction.

So how do you avoid these four harbingers of business failure? It is really very simple: Extreme market and customer focus, a culture that embraces change and is dedicated to continuous improvement and a clear strategy for valued differentiation to your target customers.

Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum, deciding that you want your business to be one of the best in the world at what you do. This is a topic that I have studied for years and again, there is a very clear pattern of precisely what is required to reach the pinnacle of your chosen endeavor. It is the Four P’s.

Passion: if you do not LOVE what you are doing there is no way in the world you can ever become truly world class in it. You must have a burning desire and drive for excellence.

Persistence: numerous studies into expert performance demonstrate that whether you are looking at an elite athlete, a virtuoso musician, a chess grand master or a world-class business leader it generally takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of extremely focused effort to reach the top of their field.

Practice: during those 10 years the individual is putting in an enormous amount of practice and work. But rather than just rote practice, an expert performer makes each practice session a little more challenging and difficult than the last, always pushing their skill level higher and higher.

Pattern Recognition: the final element of achieving peak performance is when the individual becomes so proficient and focused in their area of expertise that they begin to see the “patterns of excellence” that are not visible to those with less experience. This is how a chess master can “see down board” or how Tebow can see the whole field when he is reading a defense. In business, this is when you can see strategies and opportunities before your competition and then be agile enough to make the necessary changes and take advantage of your insights.

So if you are truly serious about becoming the very best at what you do there is a proven formula:

Passion + Persistence x Focused Practice = Pattern Recognition = Opportunity for Success.

The final question then is: Are you willing to put in the time and practice required to reach this level of excellence? Luckily, if you have the passion… it is actually very fun and enjoyable along the way! guest writer John Spence is the author of “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action.” He is an award-winning professional speaker and corporate trainer, and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America.

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