We were recently asked, 'Have you ever been anxious about business strategy and survival?' In a world of bravado, statistics, data and jargon, it's a very human question and one that just about every business owner contends with daily.
One hopes that as time goes by, and depending on your personality, the feeling of anxiety gives way to simply being aware rather than worried about your company's success. However, in many ways, anxiety about company survival and the relevance and efficacy of your business strategy is a sign of someone motivated, awake, and eager to succeed.
Only the paranoid survive
'Only the paranoid survive', wrote Andrew Grove, the CEO of Intel Corporation. He should know- he wrote the book on the topic. It is a powerful comment that many will identify with and draw comfort from- knowing others have felt the same way.
The quote speaks to a normal set of feelings and acknowledges that companies will invariably have difficult periods. Nonetheless, with the right leadership, and a little luck, hard times can be some of the most critical moments in an individual or company's career.
Optimising for market fit
Worry tends to come from an acute awareness that things can happen, things change, and that you have to continue to stay relevant if you want to succeed in your relevant market. All companies should constantly be optimising for market fit, reviewing and refining their proposition to ensure that they continue to deliver a product or service that fills a demand.
Even the most established brands can face enormous challenges. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that nothing is certain. For lots of businesses, the status quo has changed forever. Consider airlines. If anyone had told you three years ago that they might need bailing out, you would have thought it was impossible. However, airlines are likely to have to reconsider their offering indefinitely in a post-lockdown world.
None of us can predict the future, and we can only deal with the situations that we have in front of us. However, awareness that things can and will change, along with a business strategy designed to absorb impact and adapt, is invariably the key to survival.
The power of leadership
Paranoia for business leaders is generally an indicator of care. There is a lot for CEOs and business owners to think about. In a regular job, you worry about your role and your ambitions. To a greater or lesser extent, you can trust that someone else is responsible for the company's success, and to some degree, that person also has your career progression in mind.
When you are a business owner or in a leadership position, the responsibility for the business's success lies with you, but so too does the security of other people's livelihoods, whether it's because they are your clients or part of your team. Strong leadership isn't about being suffocated by that responsibility but being aware of it and taking it seriously. In many ways, sitting back and getting too comfortable would be a deeply problematic place to be.
Surrounding yourself with good people
While data and digitisation are central to a modern way of working, having the right people on your side is still the most significant asset a company can have. You need to have people in your corner who you trust, who are aligned with your vision for your company, and who are passionate about the company's values.
You can tell a lot about a business by the commitment of its people. It is no secret that there is currently a skills shortage. Companies are quickly recognising that attracting and keeping talented individuals committed to and engaged with their jobs is no mean feat. Who you have on your team should be as big a part of your business strategy as defining your pricing strategy or understanding customer behaviour.
Business strategy for long-term success
While no one should exist in a state of crippling paranoia, some degree of anxiety is a normal and healthy part of being a business owner or leader. It's something that we, as a company and as individual members of the team, empathise with.
Our Fractional CMOs have all come from leadership positions- both in terms of running their own companies and being members of the C-Suite in leading global organisations. Our clients can trust that that's a degree of empathy and understanding that we relate to and incorporate into our advice and support when it comes to business strategy and leadership.
The good news is that the key to keeping paranoia and anxiety in check is:
- Having a business strategy that is designed with evolution in mind
- Having a team that's prepared to listen to customers and analyse feedback
- And having leadership that continues to be driven and passionate about what a company does
To us, that is the trifecta that won't make the worry go away but can help make sure it's being channelled into positive outcomes.
Contact us any time to find out more about leadership support and strategic guidance that gigCMO and the team can offer.
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