Competitive Edge
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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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The Secret To Being Mentally Strong May Be Hidden In A Small Norwegian City

The Secret To Being Mentally Strong May Be Hidden In A Small Norwegian City | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
A Stanford Researcher went to the north of Norway to study people's reaction to winter. She was surprised by what she found.


Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

Winter blows, doesn't it?

It blows cold into your ears, damp into your bones and darkness into your very core.

You don't want to get out of bed. You don't have enough energy. You wish the whole thing would just get lost.

Some people suffer far beyond mere discomfort. They get seasonal affective disorder, which can be extremely debilitating.

Stanford University researcher Kari Leibowitz thought she'd find out how those who live in Tromsø, Norway respond to winter.

Tromsø is 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It's an island where the sun doesn't bother coming up over the horizon for two months of the year. Despite that, 70,000 people live there.

Here's the strange thing: They don't appear to be all that miserable.

At least that's what Leibowitz found, which made her wonder about humans and the way they approach certain problems. Specifically, these Norwegian humans who seem to actually thrive amid all this dark and foreboding.

Leibowitz's tentative conclusion: It's their mindset. Read more: click image or title.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The secret is to find #value in every condition or situation and enjoy it.

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What You Need to Know to Compete With the Surging Sharing Economy

What You Need to Know to Compete With the Surging Sharing Economy | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
By 2017, 80 percent of U.S. consumers will be using services from peer-to-peer collaborative companies. Here's what you need to know if you aren't Uber or Airbnb.

The sharing economy is a force to be reckoned with. All around the globe, consumers are using their phones to book what they need in an instant -- whether it’s a ride across town or a place to stay for the weekend. But as the peer-to-peer economy continues to expand, companies that fail to adapt could be putting themselves in jeopardy.

“Unless you can offer similar services, your business is vulnerable,” reads a new report co-written by the sharing economy expert Jeremiah Owyang and tech strategist a Alexandra Samuel. “Mobile-enabled, on-demand, customized products and services are fast becoming the new normal, and companies that fail to offer customers what they want, when and how they want it, are in ever-greater peril.”

The report, titled The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, is the result of a survey of more than 50,000 consumers in North America. It was commissioned by cloud-based customer intelligence software company Vision Critical.  

There are more than 110 million North American consumers using the sharing economy, according to the report. That’s up 25 percent from a year ago, and the participation rate is only projected to climb. More than half of U.S. consumers will be using the collaborative economy in the next year. By 2017, that figure is expected to jump to 80 percent. Read more: click image or title.




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The essence of doing business becomes more prominent again. Bring value, at a competitive price, and treat your clients exceptionally well.

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Best Kickass Advice For a 1st Time Entrepreneur

Best Kickass Advice For a 1st Time Entrepreneur | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Make Sure You Buckle Up Before You Hit Top Speed :)

Entrepreneurship is a total roller coaster ride and if someone has told you to just take it easy, well buckle up and gather all you can to prepare for this crazy ride.

So whats that kickass advice for a first time entrepreneur ?

Henny Kel asked this fantastic question in the Startup Specialists Group on LinkedIn and gathered some really interesting and fantastic answers from across the globe.

Some of the awesome insights were :

Michael Felix added this fantastic thought :

Focus on your strengths and hire people whose strengths are your weaknesses". Too many entrepreneurs try to do it all, and it causes them to see entrepreneurship as this daunting venture

Read more great advice here: Best Kickass Advice To A First Time Entrepreneur




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

My take: when creating your first entrepreneurial venture, stay focused. It requires and incredible amount of effort to create something of value that will last for a long time. That initial effort will take everything you got, give it all...

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Add Value or Someone Else Will

Add Value or Someone Else Will | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

The lure of maximising profits at the cost of creating customer value can be devastating in the long term.

In 2006, I moved to Mumbai and as soon as I landed, I looked for a taxi. A smiling taxi driver came up to me and asked me where I wanted to go. When I told him my location, his smile vanished. He was almost leaving when he stopped and asked me if I would be willing to pay Rs350, the fare for a long distance (and more profitable for him) carriage.

‘But I will pay by the meter? That is why you have it? Isn’t it?’ I said, irritated at the attempt to hustle me. The cabbie left without even arguing. I took the next taxi and paid Rs350 when I should have paid Rs100.

Even afterwards, the taxi experience annoyed me. Faulty meters, smelly interiors, no air-conditioning, bad maintenance and a jerky ride that tossed you back and forth every time the brakes were applied.

Everyone wants to grow. Therefore, the taxi driver’s inclination to increase profit cannot be frowned upon. However, he should have known that increasing profits without increasing value is a short-term high and, much like narcotics, can be devastating in the long term. 

Short-term gain, long-term pain

While taxi drivers continued to increase their profit through various means, the value delivered to the customer diminished. The void between price charged and value delivered expanded.

Then, in 2007, a new taxi service came and happily filled the void. While, the fare was about 20% higher, the value delivered was vastly superior.

Proper meters, clean interiors, well maintained vehicles, effective air-conditioning and most importantly, the taxi never refused to go where you wanted to go. In fact, the system remembered your most-frequented destinations saving you time reciting addresses repeatedly.

All in all, you could book a taxi in an instant and get transported to your destination comfortably, in time, and without looking like a zoo animal.

If you are not providing value, someone else will. Today, the old taxi service is without options except to ask the government for concessions. The new tax service, meanwhile, continues to grow. Now, it operates thousands of taxis and has spread across many cities of India. This reminded me of a parable I used in a training program.

The coal merchant

There once lived a coal merchant who had a shop in a village. Every day, the coal merchant would purchase coal from his suppliers at Rs100 and sell at Rs150, making a profit of Rs50. He wanted to grow and was impatient to increase his profits.

One day, an old friend stopped at his shop and made him an extraordinary offer: ‘I will sell you coal at Rs50’, he said.

Unable to conceal his excitement, the merchant asked him ‘How will you do it? The market rate is Rs100, why are you selling at Rs50?’

The friend looked around to make sure that no one was listening, he bent closer to the merchant and whispered in his ears: ‘this coal is very low quality but your customers wouldn’t know. They are little black rocks after all’

After seeing his friend off and tempted at the additional profit that he could generate, the merchant turned to his father.

‘The objective of business is to make profit, isn’t it?’ he asked his father.

‘Sure’ his father answered.

‘…and to grow your business, you need to make more and more profit’ he said further.

‘Yes’ said the father.

‘My friend is going to supply me coal at half the price. It is low quality coal but it will double our profit’ said the son, ‘I am confused. Is it dishonesty to try and increase your profit? We are not here to do charity either, are we?’

‘No, you are right, we are not here to do charity. We run business and profit is our right. But, What is the customers right?’ asked his father.

‘To get coal’ said the son.

‘Not just that. It is to get the benefit of the coal. They pay so that they can burn this coal and use that energy to make their lunch’ said the father, ‘right now, you are extracting the price for the coal and delivering the benefit of the coal to the customer. If you buy the bad quality coal, you are still extracting the price but are you delivering the benefit? Will the customer, after buying the bad quality coal, get the energy that they paid for?’

‘That is dis-honesty son. Seeking to exert your right and ignoring the customer’s right. Seeking to create profits without delivering the benefits.'

The lesson from the story is simple. There is no right to profit greater than the obligation to provide value.

Companies must never forget that their customers are under no obligation to part with a greater amount of their spending, just so they can show up on the Fortune 500. Their growth must be with the customers, not despite them. The Mumbai taxi service is a case in point.

Add value

This could appear to be a fight between large corporate structures and small mom-and-pop structures. Seeing it like that is a fallacy.

Looking at the retail sector in India, the biggest organised retail chains have had to face defeat at the hands of small neighbourhood retailers in numerous cases. The reason: convenience and personalised service. The neighbourhood retailer knows you by name even though he ensures that you never have to travel to his shop. His delivery person comes every day to your house, sometimes even for small (unviable) orders. The retailer celebrates festivals with you, congratulates you on your achievements, and participates in your sorrow, makes small talk with you about the upcoming cricket match and gives you credit (without filling up a form!). Clearly, there is a relationship that is more valuable to the customer than the lower price or choice that a supermarket offers.

The only fight here is to create value for the customer, in some way, whatever way. Bigger is not better. Focussed is better. There is always some value that you can add. Where there is a will to create value, there are many ways, and not all require you to be a large corporation willing to make million dollar investments.  

Large corporations and entrepreneurs, all want to grow and increase their profits. However, trying to increase profits without increasing value delivered to the customers is not only unfair, it is just bad business.

Venugopal Gupta is the founder of The Business Parables, a firm that helps organisations communicate goals and outcomes using the power of short stories. You can follow him on Twitter @venugopal_gupta.



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Via Kenneth Mikkelsen, Pascale Mousset, malek
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Nice stories. Always keep 'adding value' in mind when running a business. It will pay off in the end.

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How To Sell Absolutely Anything At Full Price

How To Sell Absolutely Anything At Full Price | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
How to sell things at full price.

Price is the amount of money your customer pays for a product.  Value is what your customer perceives the benefits of that product to be, and the emotional connection he/she has to the product, the employee, and the company, in relation to the price.

How retail associates handle and present products to her/his customer adds - or reduces - the perceived value. This is true whether the products are drills, luggage, or diamond rings.

I've seen a salesperson treat a $40 product as if it was priced at $500, and I've seen a salesperson treat a $500 product like it was worth $40. Guess which salesperson sold more?

To read the full article, click on the image or title.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Selling value should be central in every contact and sale.

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Is It Time To Rethink Your Prices? Yes, If You Want To Build A Sustainable Business

Is It Time To Rethink Your Prices? Yes, If You Want To Build A Sustainable Business | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Startups and small businesses have a habit of setting their prices low in order to attract customers. The problem is, it’s simply unsustainable. These entrepreneurs end up working as hard as they can just to stay afloat. In extreme cases, a business actually loses money with each new sale.

Your prices. Nothing has a bigger impact on your business’ sales, health, and bottom line. Set your prices too high, and your products or services won’t sell. However, according to analyst firm McKinsey, lowball prices are a far more common problem for businesses. In fact, they’ve found that upwards of 80% to 90% of all poorly chosen prices are too low.

It’s easy to understand why this phenomenon happens. Startups and small businesses have a habit of setting their prices low in order to attract customers. A brand new consultant might offer heavy discounts to win business and build a portfolio. Then, she never readjusts her prices back up to market rate. A web startup may keep a feature free for far too long, even though it’s clear that people are willing to pay for it.

These businesses face a similar future: they continue to win new customers, clients are happy, and their business is humming along busier than ever before. The problem is, it’s simply unsustainable. These entrepreneurs end up working as hard as they can just to stay afloat. In extreme cases, a business actually loses money with each new sale.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The first tips says: "Sell based on value, not just price". How true is that? You'll never go wrong following that rule. Don't undercut yourself and your hard work.

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More Funding Won’t Magically Fix Your Startup | TechCrunch

More Funding Won’t Magically Fix Your Startup | TechCrunch | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Some entrepreneurs think that (more) money will solve all their company’s problems.

Some entrepreneurs think that (more) money will solve all their company’s problems. It won’t. Like a teenager with a million dollar allowance and an identity crisis, a startup with too much capital and no product-market fit will become capable of making larger mistakes.

Biggie Smalls said it best: “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”

As an investor, I root for startups. It pains me to see great teams and ideas collapse under the pressure that sometimes follows fundraising. If you’ve raised money and you’re not sure what comes next, that’s fine – I don’t always know either. However, I do know four things you absolutely should not do: Read more: click image or title.




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some pretty straightforward ideas here for #startups, accompanied with some beautiful image.s

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Create Value Before Growth • The Entrepreneur

Create Value Before Growth • The Entrepreneur | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

The secret of starting and succeeding in business is to create value before growth. Value remains the intrinsic benefit every customer seeks.

n my bestselling book, The Entrepreneur, I explained that entrepreneurs need to answer two important questions when it comes to starting, managing, and growing a business successfully. The first question is “Can I build it?” followed by “Will someone care?” While technology seems to make us believe that we can build anything we want, the crucial question is:

“Will anyone care about what we are building?

This raises another important question about how a business can create value before growth. At the early stage of starting a business, founders are qick to think about how they can take their business to the next level, instead of figuring out exactly what customers want. In business, value is the glue that keeps customers coming back.




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Via Nkem Mpamah
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Creating #value, creating value, creating value. This should be the mantra of every #entrepreneur and business owner.

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7 Principles for Propelling Your Startup to Success | New Beginnings

Want a venture to succeed?

I developed seven principles that can help a startup improve its odds at success based on analysis of more than 1,500 public companies that I did for my book Value Leadership.

Companies that followed these principles the most closely (I call them value leaders) grew sales 35 percent faster and generated 109 percent higher net margins than their peers and increased shareholder value almost five times faster than the market in the 10 years before 2003. Companies that do a better job of creating value for key stakeholders, such as employees, customers and communities, also happen to generate more value for shareholders.

The organizations that apply all these principles will outperform those that skimp on some. For example, one of Google’s glaring weaknesses today is its inability to create a significant new source of revenue beyond advertising. That does not seem to hurt the company too much now but it could in the future.

Although I developed the following seven principles years ago, I believe they can help a startup succeed today as has been borne out by recent company history

1. Value human relationships.

Entrepreneurs can’t do it all themselves, which means they need to hire talented people. Treat talented people with respect and be sure they are a good fit with the values of the company.

For example, Google hires very smart people who fit with its unconventional approach to problem solving. Google has used its famous data-driven approach to decision making to identify traits associated with effective management. And it has used those insightsto hire and promote peope who demonstrate these skills.

2. Foster teamwork.

If an entrepreneur hires talented people, he or she should demand that they debate solutions. Ask them to use their skills to develop better solutions from working together than they would by toiling on their own.

In the last few years, Google has encouraged more teamwork, which has helped the company bring new ideas like Google Glass to fruition.

3. Experiment frugally.

Startup CEOs must resist the urge to perfect their products before launching them. Instead, they should build fast, inexpensive versions of their products, receive feedback from the market and improve the product in response.

Google encouraged this kind of frugal experimentation by letting its employees spend 20 percent of their time working on projects of personal interest.

In 2011 new CEO, Larry Page, decided he wanted to “put more wood behind fewer arrows” and phased out 20 percent time while phasing in the Google X lab to work on innovations, Quartz reported.

4. Fulfill commitments.

A startup will not succeed unless the team knows the management’s intentions and then leaders act accordingly. And leaders who tell their people they’ll do one thing but do the opposite will lose trust.

Google has certainly tried to follow through on its oft-stated value “don’t be evil.” Sadly, it has not always succeeded, such as when it decided tocensor search results in China in 2006. It stopped in 2010.

Don’t make the same mistake. It’s better for a startup to give up on a business opportunity than to violate its core values.

5. Fight complacency.

Don’t let the success of a particular product or service keep the company from searching for better ways to meet customers’ needs. Remember Blockbuster? To fight complacency, maintain a healthy paranoia and always be on the lookout for how to adopt new technologies that will give customers superior value.

Consider how Netflix transformed itself from a DVD-by-mail service to an online streaming provider. Not only has Netflix managed the transition masterfully, it has also added new capabilities like creating popular shows and managing relationships with high-bandwidth service providers.

6. Win through multiple means.

Don’t let the startup become dependent on one product that competitors can copy. Protect sources of revenue and profit by being good at a few key skills that are difficult for rivals to copy.

Under Steve Jobs, Apple could enter into existing businesses (like MP3 players, smartphones and tablets) and cut itself a big slice of the profit pie. Apple won through multiple means: It had great product design, superb marketing and customer service, an efficient supply chain and the ability to motivate third-party providers as evidenced by the success of iTunes and the App Store.

7. Give to the community.

Running a startup is especially challenging because business owners can’t pay enough to attract top talent. But they can make up for the smaller pay packet by developing a meaningful mission.

Consider the case of Embrace Innovations, whose CEO, Jane Chen, I interviewed in June 2011. The social enterprise was started in an attempt to save the lives of premature babies in developing countries. In India, many premature babies died after not being kept warm during a four-hour journey to the hospital.

Because of its inspiring mission, the company attracted talented employers, who developed a tiny sleeping bag of special materials able to keep infants at the right temperature. This saved many lives.

This week my class of 30 Babson College undergraduates explored how Google has applied these seven principles: The students concluded that despite some flaws, notably in its privacy policies, Google is a value leader. The students concluded that Google excels at valuing human relationships, winning through multiple means, experimenting frugally and fighting complacency.

Ready to try these principles? In my book I listed 24 specific activities that companies should perform to follow the seven principles as well as 107 more detailed tactics to accomplish these activities.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Good principles to keep in mind when doing business.

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The 7 Critical Success Factors for a Services Business - Entrepreneur

The 7 Critical Success Factors for a Services Business - Entrepreneur | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

The critical success factors for a product business are well known, starting with selling every unit with a gross margin of 50 percent or more, building a patent and other intellectual property, and continuous product improvement. 

If your forte is a service, such as consulting or website design, it’s harder to find guidance on what will get you funded, and how you can scale your business.

On the product side, once you have a proven product and business model, all you need is money to build inventory, and a sales and marketing operation to drive the business. With services, scaling the business often implies cloning yourself, since you are the intellectual property and the competitive advantage. You have no shelf life, so you can’t make money while you sleep.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.




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Via Luis Costa
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Good information for service businesses. Be unique, value yourself, stand out, look for referrals, offer advice, etc.

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Innovation Excellence | Seven Things the Competent Innovation Manager Should Know

Innovation Excellence | Seven Things the Competent Innovation Manager Should Know | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

f you have recently been promoted — or perhaps demoted — to the position of innovation manager, your first action has probably been to do a bit of research. In so doing, you may understandably have been overwhelmed by the amount of information on-line, in books and peddled by over-priced consultants. Worse, a lot of that information is contradictory, uses unintelligible jargon or requires you hire an over-priced consultant.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t panic! I am here to help! Here are seven basic things every innovation manager should know. And if you have questions, please ask!

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Also check the article on 'innovation' posted today on 'Mobile Development News': http://sco.lt/7dZoIr

Steve Jobs' idea about innovation!

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It's Not About You - Focus 5 Design

It's Not About You - Focus 5 Design | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Real success happens when you realize it's not all about you. You have to think more about what you can give rather than what you can get.

When starting out in your business, stop trying to figure out how your product or service can make you lots of money. Instead, ask yourself how it can truly help someone. What real problem does it solve? How does it make the world a better place, even for just one person?

When you find yourself in a social situation like a meeting, a conference, or a seminar, don’t go into it thinking what you can get out of it. Think instead of what you can bring to the situation to make it better. How can you be helpful to others? What skills and talents can you bring to the table to improve the experience for those around you?

To read the full article, click on the title or image.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Building a business is all about value. What do you offer? It's not about you, it's about how you can help your client. Then they will pay you.

The same reasoning for your business plan: what problem do you solve? How do you bring value?

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