The top Wimbledon tennis players are closely matched; every shot is performed to gain an advantage, and every practice session is a rehearsal to improve the odds of gaining an advantage.
When you review the statistics, the winner achieves success by a small percentage gain, perhaps two less unforced errors or two more aces. For their efforts, the winner of Wimbledon receives £1.88million the runner-up £950K. Although world No1 Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the 2015 Wimbledon title after beating Roger Federer. Federer ranked 2nd can have the last laugh, he £56.2m compared to Djokovic earned £33.1m, in 2014.
Competitive advantage is in every aspect of tennis. It is not just the match-winning results, but the personal brand, the fan base and the performance consistency that makes a difference.
Richard Rumelt stated “When you generate greater sales and/or retain more customers and can sustain profits that exceed the average in your industry, you possess a competitive advantage over your competitors.” In tennis grunting gives a competitive advantage, along with first server, height and mental strength.
I remember when the William sisters first launched onto the tennis circuit; they changed the way tennis was played for both men and women. Players now train in the gym; they realise that speed, strength and stamina gave the players significant advantage that became match-winners.
Michael Porter observed “operational effectiveness means you are running the same race faster, but strategy is choosing to run a different race because it is the one you have set yourself up to win.” The William sisters decided to run a different race and created sustainable competitive advantage, Serena Williams is still dominating women’s tennis after ten years.
How can SMEs build capabilities that outperform their competitors over an extended period to gain a sustainable competitive advantage?
- Change the Game: Define your niche and have a clear differentiation from your potential competitors and then dominate your space. In The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, says author Grant Cardone, “Extreme success is by definition outside the realm of normal action. Instead of behaving like everybody else and settling for average results, take Massive Action with The 10 X Rule, remove luck and chance from your business equation, and lock in massive success
- Do what other will not do but you can: Become the trusted expert of your space, people will come to you rather than you chase them. Substantiate your opinions with educated facts and figures. Have an explicitly stated authentic opinion, you will attract “your tribe”, people who truly resonate with your view. Provide reliable solutions, advice and resources to help solve stated and anticipated problems.
- Have a clear purpose for doing what you do: Serena wants to become the most coveted positive influence beyond her tennis career. What is your Why? Make it easy for others to get on board with the purpose. Life becomes much more fulfilling when you become involved in a cause greater than yourself. Great talent is easier to attract when you have a clear goal; great teams are easier to develop and grow when the purpose is greater than you.
- Never take your Customers and Fans for granted: Nurture raving fans, author of Raving Fans! Kenneth H. Blanchard states “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers is not good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.”
- Leverage your Strengths: Look at your innovative business processes and create process advantage do the same thing for less or different things for more. Reduce your supply chain cost of sales or increase product innovation and brand value. Wimbledon players analyse every aspect of their and their opponent’s game to look to develop efficiencies and competitive strength.
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You can download my free eBook ‘How to Stand out from the Crowd.’ Next week I will talk about B2B strategies companies can use to gain competitive advantage.