VIEWPOINT: Valuable insights on how to survive as a business leader are provided by serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque, an Executive-in-Residence at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive MBA program:
I recently shared what I’ve learned from my experiences with a group of future business leaders from around the world. I discussed a broad range of topics surrounding leadership concerns, priorities and impacts.
Here I expand on some of these thoughts on the fundamental survival skills for every business leader, regardless of industry or enterprise size.
My journey as an entrepreneur and my life in general has been punctuated by my own adversity and the struggles I’ve witnessed in the lives of others. Conquering those challenges has taught me to triumph and become a leader who is prepared for the often unprecedented changes – both good and bad – that are inevitable in our dynamic, global marketplace.
Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and executives face unique obstacles in a business ecosystem where competitors can emerge from any corner of the world. Every leader must anticipate and address critical questions across every facet of his or her enterprise.
Demographics: Who are your customers? Have you lost business to rivals? Why didn’t those customers remain loyal?
As more and more people migrate from laptops to smartphones and tablets, doing business requires awareness through social media and an understanding of how the technology these customers rely on fits in with your business model. From any time zone, all it takes is Internet access to match a small local business with global customers.
Impact analysis: What is the worst enemy of customer satisfaction and loyalty?
If you haven’t identified a small business apocalypse scenario, you have no plan to prevent it. Don’t let unknown rivals swoop in and steal your customer base.
Geography: Does it matter from where your business is based?
If you could move your business to a new locale without any loss of capital, so could your competitors. Thanks to enabling technology, you may be able to operate from any location provided you can deliver goods or otherwise support customers. Be aware of how someone else could use the Internet to access your customers more quickly and efficiently. Explore what new foundation and blueprint your business needs to defend what you have built.
Distribution: Are you providing the best access?
The old retail model was location, location, location. The Internet model is now access, access, access. Every product or service you sell can be accessed somewhere else in the world almost instantaneously. You must adapt your distribution or expand it.
Competition: How is your product or service different from what your competitors offer?
Visit competitors’ websites to see how they define and market their product. Examining your rivals’ approach could lead to a new blueprint for your new “tomorrow is today” business architecture.
Loyalty and affinity: Are you doing enough to keep customers happy?
Analyze, measure, and adjust every customer touch point you have, from telephone messages to the website. Why have customers come to you in the past? Asking them may reveal a value point you never considered significant. Consider how someone else might harness social media or other technology tools to compete against you by capturing that one value point that brings in your customers.
You must continually build upon customers’ buying experience to make the relationship sticky, so they keep coming back to you.
Faisal Hoque is Founder, Chairman, and CEO at BTM Corporation and founder of research think-tank BTM Institute. His newest book is The Power of Convergence.
Top photo: Ingrid Bergman in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. 20th Century Fox 1958
Chicago Booth Executive MBA Program
Read about Faisal Hoque
read about BTM Institute
Purchase his latest book The Power of Convergence