Competitive Advantages Don’t Last Forever

Bob Schultek Author of
The Gauntlet

Business needs evolve over time. The distinctive offering that drives your growth today has been productive because it enabled your company to solve your customers’ problems and produce value for them better than anyone else.

But tomorrow those same customers will have different challenges. Will you be ready to meet them?

Today’s competitive advantage will not produce the same value for your customers tomorrow.  Like you, your customers must remain competitive so their needs and challenges will change.  Remaining focused on today’s challenges is obviously essential, but the rate of market evolution is accelerating and this should work in your favor rather than cornering you.  Carve out time to consider the future before it overruns you.

Here are three proven ways to do so:

  1. Earn preference with your customers. Building a trusted strategic relationship with your key customers provides insight into their evolving goals and strategies. What’s happening in their served markets? What trends are they observing? How are they adapting their business to preserve their competitive advantage? What is your business doing to remain valuable to them?
  2. Monitor competitors and trends in your served markets. Which industries are growing? Which companies are winning and which are not? Why? How does your business serve these industries? How can you elevate your awareness of trends? Is someone in your business responsible for doing this?
  3. Consider alternative targets for your product or service among non-customers. Evaluate how your distinctive competence can be applied in other markets. In what related markets, might your products or services be of value?  Are there any new uses for your current products or services?

None of these methods is novel. They work, they’re proven, but they do require time and hard work. It’s much easier to tackle today’s challenges – they’re right in front of you, clear to see and well defined.  But your uncertain future is rumbling towards you so invest some time to prepare for it.

 What are you doing to preserve your competitive advantage over time?

 How are you remaining alert for tomorrow’s opportunities?

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