François Cazor, Co-founder and CEO of Kpler offers tips on running a successful business without becoming too competitive.
“Success is the best reward in fast-moving company culture. After investing a lot of hard work in a product as a team, seeing it dominate the market for a long period of time is an ultimate reward. So far, so good.
However, when a company reaches such a high point, there is a great sense that success will be sustainable. Unfortunately, this sense of complacency can lead to problems.
In short, we’re talking about the challenge of how to remain competitive and avoid the success syndrome. The answer to this: continue to innovate and offer good products, focus on team and company culture, and avoid complacency.”
Remain Innovative – Especially with Your Products
“Let’s start with innovation. In order to remain competitive, you must be innovative. In short, if you don’t invest in innovation you will stop growing – as you won’t have new products to offer.
If you’re in a big market and don’t continue to innovate, you might be able to sell more of the same but in the end, you risk competitors offering a better service if you don’t adapt.
Ultimately, if you want to be innovative, be prepared to reinvent the wheel if it’s not working. For example, streaming giant Netflix actually started out as a DVD rental company before reinventing itself as a provider of original TV series and films, an idea that sounded extremely unorthodox when launched.
Innovation can mean breaking new ground. When you are entering a new product market, ask yourself: why am I entering this market? What market share am I going after? In short, the new product has to be better than the competition to earn you new clients.
Finally, looking at financials, if you never invest in your product and don’t modernise it, expect to fall victim to the success syndrome.”
The Importance of Hiring, Retention and Company Culture
“With innovation and products working well together, it’s important to remember that remaining competitive is not only just about these factors – the staff you hire and retain and good company culture are also essential.
The key to successful hiring to avoid the success syndrome is to properly vet new candidates to see if they share your own company culture values as discussed in my previous article. We recommend leaders put a strong focus on what their values stand for, as this is attractive to prospective employees, as it demonstrates that your company will support and develop new hires.
During the recruitment process, before speaking about skills, we ask questions about values, and this helps us attract the right candidates that fit with our culture. Staff should not only be motivated by revenue. They should want to be part of your company’s DNA as well.”
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“So, with the right hires comes the challenge of avoiding staff becoming victims of the success syndrome’s worst outcome: complacency.
Whenever I think of complacency among companies, I’m always reminded of a line from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “Your margin is my opportunity.” This is very important to me, as when you are on top and dominate your market, only bad things can happen to you.
You might find yourself having 70% of the market share and you think you’re happy to cruise along but contrary to popular belief, market saturation is not a very enviable position to be in.
Also, complacency for me also means stagnation – leading to a lack of competitive hunger. For example, if you start a New Year in a fast-moving company and the plan is to do the same as last year but make a little more revenue than before, then that’s boring. You won’t motivate staff with this attitude or mindset.
Your clients will not be happy if they don’t see you investing and developing your product or offering if you carry on with a ‘business as usual’ mindset.
Metaphorically, every rival will try to steal your lunch, and so far it has not happened to Kpler. This is because we are aware of the success syndrome, we want to remain competitive, so we do this by constantly innovating, and creating a healthy company culture where people want to strive to succeed.
This healthy company culture is all about motivating staff to avoid complacency. This can be done by setting clear objectives that change regularly, informing staff of the company’s goals and how they help deliver these, and by the CEO simply taking time out to talk to staff – individually if possible, or by holding regular company meetings.
Going forward, it’s essential that fast growing companies must remain competitive and avoid complacency. The best way to achieve this is not by hiring expensive management consultants. Instead, ask yourself some honest questions: can my products be improved? Is my recruitment process about developing staff or just getting the headcount I need? Am I challenging myself and colleagues in the workplace?
I have had to answer these questions – it wasn’t easy to do, but to date it has ensured Kpler stays a cut above our competitors. Long may this continue.”