Over the last few years, we have seen some exceptional strategies implemented by some of our portfolio companies and others in the market to give them an advantage over their competition. I decided to make a list of the ideas that stood out in my mind that other companies could implement - regardless of the industry focus.
1. Service your competitor's customers when they have problems
Are some of your prospects using the competition, but they struggle to get help when they need it most? Offer your assistance at this pivotal time. Furthermore, tell them to call you anytime. Eventually, they will bring their business to you as they realize that you are readily available and your competition is not.
2. Understand your competitive advantage
Why do your customers do business with you? What attracts new customers? If you don't have these answers, find them out. To gain market share and create a company of long-term value, you need to understand what makes your company different and unique. Once you have the answers, focus on these strengths to attract other customers.
3. Hire smart people
Don't ever wait on this. Hire the smartest people you can find for all positions without delay. The good thing about hiring the best and brightest in your organization is that it snowballs. Smart people hire smart people. One word of caution, hard workers aren't necessarily smart workers.
4. Create a positive image in the community for your company
There are a lot of opportunities to this in the Research Triangle Park area with a growing number of networking events and fundraisers to attach your company's name to. If you don't have the resources for a sponsorship, find a meaningful organization and encourage your employees to volunteer or flood a local networking event with a bunch of people from your company. Making a positive impact like this creates more interest in your organization from potential employees and customers.
5. Understand who your best customers are and shower them with attention. Also learn how your can sell more to this important customer group.
Do you have a few big customers on board, but sales are small? Meet regularly with these organizations and find out how your products or services can address their pain points. They could be looking for something else your company can deliver. You just need to stay close to them to understand their needs.
6. Don't spend a lot of time focusing on raising capital
Many executives spend too much time raising venture capital and during that period ignore running their business. Raising capital can be a huge drain on time. A lot of companies in this market grew frustrated with raising money and instead turned all that attention and energy towards running their business. The good news is they got their company to profitability and are now using that money to fuel future growth.
7. Work with partners, not service providers
Think of all the people you work with: lawyers, accountants, bankers, etc. Are they thinking about just the tasks you give them or are they thinking about you and your company? There is a big difference. A lot of local firms with help make introductions to potential customers, employees, partners and venture capitalists. It helps when they are always thinking about how to grow your company and can offer that kind of assistance and commitment to your company.
8. Spend time with others in the market that have "done it before" and pick their brain
There are a lot of experienced executives in this market and most people don't mind being approached for help. If you're running into a problem, find an experienced executive, take them for lunch and ask for advice. Chances are they have been in a similar situation before and might help your come up with a creative solution.
9. Be obsessed with success
Always think about how to improve your company's performance. Make sure everyone in the company is on the same path together.
10. Offer strong packages to attract and retain your employees
This includes a reasonable base salary, potential for bonuses based on individual and company success, stock options and employee benefits. Also, ask your employees to find out what is important to them. With some employees, you may find stock options are not as important as a higher salary or vice versa. Understanding what your employees want will help you mold a package that is more desirable and keeps them happy.