The Game of Business

Think of business like a game, and companies that attract customers as the winners. Those that don’t win, lose. That is a cold, hard, simple fact that has been true from the earliest days of the free-market economy.

Entrepreneurs have spent a great deal of time coming up with strategies for winning that very game. Their efforts have given birth to nine specific, proven ways business owners can earn business and outperform competitors. Not all of these strategies will work for every company, but you should definitely know what they are and use as many of them as possible.

Create a Company Culture

Company culture isn’t about casual Fridays, team lunches, or bringing your dog to work. It’s about uniting people under a belief that together, they can achieve something incredible.

To be fair, there are many different ways to go about doing that, but the keys to getting employees to buy in is to make them feel like they play an integral role in your overall success. What is the big picture behind your business? What is its «dream»? How do your employees help you work towards that dream? These are the questions you need to answer to build the kind of company culture that really makes a difference.

Hit the Books

Take a long, close look at what works in your industry, and what doesn’t. Learning from the successes and failures of others is something all successful entrepreneurs do, and it can save you a lot of trial and error.

Find industry-specific resources and case studies. Once you’ve figured out what has worked and what hasn’t from a historical standpoint, look at why it works or doesn’t work and apply those lessons to your market.

Be Places the Competition Isn’t

Outperforming competitors often means that you go where they aren’t willing to go, or haven’t yet gone. Depending on your industry and your market, that could mean physical or digital expansion. Move beyond saturated markets and direct, side-by-side competition with other businesses. Instead, just establish a presence somewhere your competitors aren’t.

Don’t Get Beaten at Your Own Game

Your competitors will always be looking for ways to undercut your business, particularly if you’ve been successful. To stay a step ahead of them, you need to anticipate the ways in which they will try to exploit perceived weaknesses.

Create a plan. Solve problems before they happen. Innovate before you need to. Be proactive, not reactive.

Create a Buzz for Your Biz

There’s an old saying: all publicity is good publicity. While it doesn’t always hold true in the business world, visibility and awareness are key, and businesses that consistently earn attention also consistently earn customers. Go to whatever lengths are necessary to generate buzz. Don’t be controversial for the sake of being controversial, but don’t shy away from taking risks and chances.

Say Yes

If you’re growing and you want to maintain your positive momentum, keep saying yes. Say yes to
. Say yes to diversifying. Say yes to thinking big when it comes to scaling up your business. Always look for ways to diversify, expand and grow, and when chances come along, don’t talk yourself out of them.

Listen to Your Customers

A lot of businesses ask for feedback from their customers, but surprisingly few actually implement it. Because good customer service is such an integral part of generating repeat business, it’s extremely important to actually listen to your customers — even if that means making big changes to the way you do things.

Maintain a dialogue with your customers at all times. Not only will it help you serve them better, but it will also help you understand them better. By understanding their needs, you can cater to them more easily — making them more likely to come back to you next time.

Educate Yourself

The vast majority of successful businesspeople are those who have learned the most. To succeed in business, you have to understand how a business works. As they say, loving animals doesn’t make you able to run a pet store.

While it’s important to be passionate about what you do, you need to balance that passion with knowledge. Taking the time to learn how a business really works will put you in a better position to succeed, no matter what you’re trying to do.

Go After Your Major Competitors

Sit down and list the leading businesses in your market. What do they do well? Where are they vulnerable? Then, copy what they do well while exploiting their vulnerabilities. Competing with the goal of winning is exactly what helps small businesses grow into big ones.