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What Usain Bolt can teach you about getting ahead of your competitors

To beat your competition, you just have to be 1% better than everyone else.

Don't believe me? Usain Bolt's nearest competitor was just 1% behind him in terms of time, yet no-one remembers who came second.



That is what a leading sport psychologist said at the Web Summit in Dublin in 2014 and it has stayed with me ever since.



I've also been inspired by the words of David McDowall, Brewdog's retail ops director. Speak at the Casual Dining conference in February, he nailed it when he said if you are not the best at what you do, then why do it. You've got to focus on what you are world class at and you will outstrip everyone.



But how do you do this? You could spend your time becoming obsessed with all of your competitors, watching their every move, and then setting out to beat them in all areas. But this could be a long process.



Alternatively, waste no time and just dive in. You know who the best in your market are. Look at your business in comparison and focus on making every single person you hire, everything you make or serve and how you communicate 1% better than anything you have ever seen elsewhere.



Before you do this you must have your brand in place. Ask yourself:



  • What do you do? Keep it simple as if you were explaining it to your grandmother.

  • Who is your one type of customer that you can build your business on forever?

  • Why do people come to you?

  • Why are you better than any other competitor?

  • If your brand left the room how would people describe it and how would it speak?

  • Add this all together to create a statement that describes your role in the life of your customers.



Once your brand is defined, this is the lens that you look through and how you approach strategy for all areas of your business – people, price, place, product and promotion. Be open and honest; you'll have to interrogate every inch of your business to find your 1%.



But once you get into your stride, you can turn that marginal difference into a landslide.



Copyright © 2016 Mark McCulloch, founder and ceo of WE ARE Spectacular.

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