Welcome to May’s word of the month: awareness. Tyrion Lannister, leading character from HBO’s wildly popular drama wisely laments, “Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” While Game of Thrones is based on a fantasy world, Lord Tyrion’s words can be applied to the real world in terms of our awareness of, not only, our strengths but also our weaknesses.
Case in Point: I once consulted a fledgling startup company. We were truly beginning at ground zero. We were facing the typical startup obstacles – a shoestring budget and the challenge of eeking out market share with little brand equity. While we made incredible strides in creating a strong foundation with the company’s marketing initiatives and a strong brand presence was budding, the Founder was continually frustrated that his young business was not on par with the larger, more-established players in his industry. While I applaud the competitive nature of the Founder I was working with, I realized that he (and probably all of us) have something to learn about awareness and how it can affect business strategy.
We all have, or should have, our elevator pitch perfected by now. Chances are we can articulate the strengths of our business strategy to anyone without missing a beat, and we are in most cases, expert at playing to our strengths. The question is, how aware are we of our weaknesses, limitations and current place in our respective marketplace. This awareness is not an acceptance of a subpar situation; it’s simply an acknowledgment of reality.
How Lack Of Awareness Impacts Your Overall Business Strategy:
It can cause you to set unrealistic goals. If you are a startup shipping company and you project your revenue goals to be on par with those of UPS, you’re likely to fail. Perhaps one day you’ll bring down the top competitors in your industry, but it’s not likely that this will happen in your first-year post-launch.
It can cause you to make bad decisions. Understanding your weaknesses is equally as important as playing to your strengths. Without crystal clear awareness of both aspects of your business, your business strategy will be riddled with bad decisions that could affect long-term success.
It can create a negative environment. Imagine how frustrating it will be for you and your team to attempt to achieve the unachievable and face inevitable failure due to a lack of awareness of your real position in the market. Your culture will thrive when your business strategy is designed to strive toward realistic, achievable goals.
It can cause you to waste resources. Pursuing unrealistic goals is a perfectly good way to burn through lots of cash as well as waste a lot of time and energy. Not to mention the missed opportunity of not doing what you should be doing to get ahead.
It’s easy, in a social media-infused world, to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. I have certainly found myself comparing my business strategy to that of someone who is in a completely different market and has ten years more experience than me. They say that comparison is the thief of joy but it can, if we let it, steal so much more. It can lead you in the wrong direction, create waste and shake your confidence. Having a clear and honest awareness of your strengths and weaknesses is key to success.