It is a given in any industry, there is competition. Over the last 25 years, however, I have personally experienced new forms and shapes of competitors unlike never before. They are so subtle that if taken for granted, they can destroy you. Are you curious? One comes in the form of an equal measure to everyone…it plays no favorites and one comes in the form of an important ally. How can this be? A friend and a competitor at the same time! In this article I would like to introduce you to the new “T’s” of competition.
Time: Everything and everyone competes for your time. The list is exhaustive. For example: Your customers need your time, your prospective customers need your time; your staff needs your time, your family needs your time, your social and civic organizations need your time and you need a little time for yourself! Whew. As you develop your business, more responsibilities are required and these take time. If you do not compete favorably with time and win, you will find yourself out of time and looking for asomething else. I have seen many a gifted individual fail in what they do because they simply cannot keep up with what matters most. Here are three components of time to help keep you ahead. For those of you not sports fans, please excuse the mode of analysis.
1) Practice Time: This is when you prepare for the game. Work on fundamentals. This might include service and administration time, preparing for prospecting and marketing, follow up calls and emails. Practice time is the time allocated to get prepared for what matters most…the game! Please know that an athlete would never schedule practice time during a game. It is too late. So why should we as business owners and entrepreneurs schedule preparation time when we should be out doing what makes $$$! This is game time!
2) Game Time: It’s on. Batter up; play ball. Game time is the time of your day that you are doing what brings in the business period. It is prospecting, setting appointments, making presentations, sales calls or having your doors open and ready to serve. Game time is discovering the next great opportunity. Please do not get game time confused with practice time. I spent many years working with sales representatives and it amazed me at their definition of game time. Many believed game time was organizing their day, determining who to contact or what new marketing strategy to implement. Some thought it was staff or sales meetings. NO! This is practice time. Game time is the activity that brings in the $$$! This should take up the majority of every day!
3) My Time: This is personal time. You must make time for personal time, so spend with your family or your passion. If you forego “my time” it will negatively impact both practice time and game time. It can be done! In your practice time, set aside some my time and stick to it. For example. I operate two companies everyday. I make a living on what I identify and create. However, my youngest son is a senior and is playing baseball so…I put his schedule on my calendar and except for the commitments I already had before the schedule came out, I do not purposely schedule anything to conflict with that time. NOW HOLD ON…I understand that you may be in a position where you do not have the flexibility that I might have. The point is in the time you do have, please find time for yourself. The one weekend your not on call, when your cyclical busy season is over or even a routine summer vacation, make time for “my time”. I truly believe if you don’t it will adversely affect your performance to the point that practice time and game time will have no use at all!
Are you ready for the next “T”? What if I told you it might be one of your greatest promoters! I know you think I’m crazy…Well here goes.
Technology: I know many of you, myself included use technology everyday to promote our business. So let me begin by saying this is not a “bashing” statement against technology. I love it, I use it everyday…BUT, I must understand that technology competes very well with me everyday. Here is how: You can buy almost anything you want 24/7, 365 days a year, sitting in your pajamas and NEVER speak to a human being. So if that is the case AND if there is no perceived difference in what you do and that little electric box sitting in everyone’s home and office, THEN you lose. The convenience your computer provides will win more times than not.
Case in point: I’m self employed and when it came time for me to purchase health insurance, I needed a good deal. What did I do? I went web searching. I found everything I needed to make a decision. Great information about the company, the policy and the coverage it offered. I completed the application, responded to question via email and in ten days, my policy arrived in the mail. Guess how many PEOPLE I talked to…ZERO.
I think you get the point. Technology is great and I am thankful for it, however we in business must strive to make a difference…to show there is more to the product or service; there is more to it than what is in the owner’s manual. I may sound like I’m preaching (and maybe I am) but we need to take this competitor serious or we could find ourselves using it find other employment.
The only way I know to combat the convenience of technology is to use it and compliment with great personal performance. The personal touch is our greatest advantage. It’s the great relationships we build that keeps people from coming back. While I had a quick experience getting health insurance, the one major flaw to this process is that I do not know anyone at the company personally to speak to if I have a problem. So you know what I must do if that occurs…call the phone tree and push 1 if or push 2 if or push 3 if on and on.
Competition over the next 25 years will continue to change. Who knows what we will see in the future. One thing is clear though, to those who pay attention and consistently look for opportunities to set themselves apart from the pack, will sustain long term and highly successful businesses. In that regard, time is definitely on your side!