Kicking Your Own Backside

By Beacon Staff

Sometimes I really wonder about where people get their competitive spirit. Or for that matter, why they’re in business at all.

They don’t seem to have any sort of competitive edge about them when it comes to business, but these same folks would put a hotel on Boardwalk if given the chance.

“It’s just a game”, they say. “It’s just your business”, I reply.

But it isn’t just business people. It extends beyond the business world. For example, I was recently listening to NPR just before leaving for a trade show in Vegas (another topic for another day).

The story in question was about a “massive” drug bust by US law enforcement against Mexico’s La Familia. During an interview in the middle of the story, the government dude commented about how the large bust didn’t shut them down, but it “gave them a kick in the butt”.

Woooo, a kick in the butt.

I’ll bet those drug dudes are terrified. It’s probably so bad that their little Elmo stuffed animal doll is clutched against their chests, straining against the adrenaline-charged grip that is locked around his big fluffy body.

Can’t you just smell the fear? Yeeaaaaah.

That “kick them in the butt” comment makes me want to hock up a ham sandwich. Sorry for the imagery, but it had me yelling at the radio.

While I’m not privy to the agenda of national-level drug enforcement strike force strategy meetings, but I’m guessing that no one sat around a big conference table in DC and said “OK, let’s plan a way to endanger our officers and the public and while we do that, we’ll give these drug runner guys a good kick in the butt.”


I get the same feeling when I hear someone saying: “Oh, I just want to get my fair share.”

No one ever has a number for that.

There isn’t a national standard for “fair share”. I guess if there was it would be on the same page as the number describing the size of the zero sum economy. Note: That was a joke. Really.

Fair – According to who?
And what exactly is a “fair share”? Think of a specific number.

I get the idea that it’s somewhere between “I just want to be able to pay my bills and do what I want” and “Small enough to avoid having an employee (or 10 employees).”

Others give me the “well, what we do is good enough”. Good enough to do what? Make the Subaru payment?

To hear some, competition is bad and promotes greed. Profit is bad as well. I hear this attitude in people’s voices too often.

So how much is enough?

Enough – and what I really mean is GOOD ENOUGH – to be ABLE to get every client you want, make every sale that you want to make and choose your customers if you want to.

That’s not the same as getting *every client* or making every sale, but I’ll bet it’s a bigger number than that fair share number you thought up earlier.

For example: if you can handle all the business you have, plus half of what your competition gets, is it ok that half of the people going to your competitor are getting inferior products and/or service? Doesn’t that reflect on you and your industry?

Let’s turn it around a little bit. So you feel competition is dirty and you just want to get your fair share, right?

What if employees hear that and think “Well, I don’t want to be too good at my job, it’ll make the lamers feel bad. I’ll do enough to blend in.”

Same argument, but feels a little different now, doesn’t it?

The Gorilla
What if Amazon enters your market tomorrow? Or Wal-Mart?

Maybe they don’t sell the same goods as you, and maybe they aren’t as knowledgeable as you – but they can sell profitably even though their retail price is 20% less than your wholesale price.

How’s that fair share doing now?

A kick in the butt really isn’t enough, is it?

Time to be the best butt kicker there is. If you aren’t there now, what’s it gonna take?

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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