By Michael Cruz
Something strange has happened in the business world. I keep hearing “it’s not fair” as a mantra for excuses. By now, we should realize that life is not fair. So, why keep whining about it not being so?
What does ‘fair’ mean? Synonyms are:Â just, equitable, impartial, unbiased. What part of your business world has ever been fair?
Let’s blame our parents. When my kids were young the learned “dada” and “mama” first. The third thing they learned to say is, “It’s not fair!” Most parents attempt to logically justify fairness.
This is especially true when justifying why one sibling gets something, or gets to do something that another sibling is not getting. Yet, trying to explain that it is ‘fair’ harms the child. It sets in motion that idea that life should be fair. I went in a different direction. I told our kids that they were right when they said it was not fair. I would say, “You are right. It is not fair. Get used to it, because life is not fair.” Harsh as it may be, they all learned that life indeed is not fair.
So, with that as a pretense, let’s talk about how unfair business is. Here are some examples. You do all the work to help a prospect or customer with bid specifications. They put it out to bid, and you do not get the job or order. Not fair. You sell a product that 100 percent matches the customer’s needs. They buy a cheaper product from a competitor that does less.
You have a comparable, lesser featured product that you did not offer them. After all, you were trying to meet their needs. They stick with your competitor. Not fair! The boss favors his niece. She works half as hard as you do. Not fair. Your larger competitor can get better vendor pricing that you cannot match. Also, not fair.
If business is inherently unfair, what can you do? First, stop whining. Many people say, in business, that they want their fair share. My mantra has always been that I want more than my fair share. Figure out which business situations do not give you a better than even shot at winning. If your odds of winning are not better than even, move on a better situation. Focus your resources. The only thing we fully control is determining how we spend our time.
In an earlier article, I focused on disruption. Disruption is creating a business proposition that changes the way your competitors and customers see the market. Can’t match the cheaper price? Focus on service. Perhaps smaller more frequent deliveries. Look for innovative new products.
Make sure you listen to customers and ask qualifying questions. Offer customers choices. Disruption turns ‘not fair’ in your favor.
Figure out your strengths, your shortcomings and work out a value proposition for your situation that focuses your energy where you can win. Make saying, it’s not fair your competitor’s problem. But, not yours. You win in an unfair world.
Cruz is president of Lighthouse Advisors LLC in Queensbury.