Giving Your Business a Competitive Edge in 2017

competitive-edge
Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen

Consultant
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.
Andrew Deen

@AndrewDeen14

Consultant. Speaker. Writer. Discovering new stories in business, health, criminal justice & sports. Always look for an iced coffee in hand.
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It’s a new year, and a new opportunity for your business to grow, change, and thrive. Competition is good—it keeps businesses on their toes and prevents them from stagnating, but the phrase “one step ahead of the competition” can seem daunting at times. By the end of the year, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but you need to look ahead to the rest of 2017 and decide what steps you’ll take to stay competitive this year. Not sure how to start? Here are some ideas for vaulting ahead of the competition and prospering in 2017.

Make Diversity a Priority

Big tech companies like Google aren’t doing so well when it comes to hiring a diverse workforce—they overwhelmingly hire white, male employees. And that’s to their detriment. It’s been proven that a more diverse workforce has many benefits, and makes for a happier workforce. Companies that focus on diversity tend to have an easier time finding and retaining top talent and see boosts in innovation and growth. Having a diverse culture gives companies a range of perspectives and insights that can open up new solutions and help cater to a larger market share.

Engage Your People

Engaged workers might sound like a far-off dream, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, according to Gallup research, only 30% of employees in the US are engaged at work, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get your team excited about what you’re doing in the office every day. Much like in school sports, an inspiring leader has a lot of power to help boost productivity and satisfaction on the job. Offering perks for employee wellness, investing in a healthy culture, encouraging work-life balance, and coaching managers to be inspirational leaders are all great ways to help engage your team and help them find satisfaction in your overall organizational goals and values. Happy, healthy employees will give your business the competitive edge it needs to succeed!

Add Value

What sets you apart from your competitors? A quality product or service isn’t enough. If you have trouble spotting what makes your business unique, then it might be time to add some value to what your offer. In order to continue your business’s growth, you need a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to stay competitive. What value can you offer your customers that your competitors can’t? That’s what you need to figure out to get the edge.

Embrace Green Initiatives

“Greening” your business may seem so 2005, but it’s a step that accomplishes three goals: it generates goodwill among employees and customers, it can give you a competitive advantage, and it helps preserve the planet. You don’t have to make huge, sweeping changes, but it’s obvious that businesses need to be a key part of the sustainability movement. Many corporations are taking big steps, like embracing the closed-loop supply chain or making sure their businesses operate in energy-efficient buildings. No matter what size business you run, there are changes you can make to become more sustainable, whether that means replacing old equipment with energy-efficient upgrades or working to use more sustainable supplies in the office. Consumers will pay more for sustainable products, so don’t ignore sustainability as a potential competitive edge.

Try New Marketing Tactics

Marketing is a moving target, and your team needs to be creative and quick-thinking to catch the attention of potential customers. Don’t rely on stale content and old techniques that no longer work. Try a fresh new approach to marketing—leverage social media, create cutting-edge videos and interactive content, and most of all—be authentic with your audience. You don’t need to sell to everyone, just the people who will respond to your message and engage with your brand.

Be Open to Change

No matter what tactics you use to give your business a competitive edge this year, the most important tip to keep in mind is to always stay flexible and open to change. The market is changing rapidly, and businesses need to be ready to pivot and keep up with these changes in order to stay competitive. If you can adapt while remaining true to your organizational values, then you’re well on your way to long-term success.

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