If you were starting a new business today, what would your goals be? Would you go all out to thrive right away, or would you focus on doing what you could in order to survive for the long term?
Famous and successful businesses usually make their mark by being exceptional in a given category. They are either the product leader, service leader, customer experience leader, or cost leader in their industry. They focus maniacally on separating themselves from their competitors by putting all of their eggs in a given basket and being the best of the best in that category. This separation does require a tremendous investment of money, time, and energy by a lot of people over a long period of time.
Unsuccessful and failed businesses often use that same strategy. They went all in to be the best in a certain category and they were very good in that area. However, for one reason or another, that isn’t what customers wanted at that time and their businesses failed completely.
An alternative is a hybrid strategy. Operate within tight financial parameters and provide as good of a service or a product as you can at as good of a price and customer experience as you can offer. Keep the cost of running your business down and do as well as you can with the customers you have. This may not be as sexy as investing in your business beyond anything realistic, but it may help you survive and slowly build your business until you can afford to truly separate your organization from the competition.
A great book on this topic is “The Strategy Paradox” by Michael Raynor.