I recently read an interview with AOL founder, Steve Case. The most interesting thing he said was, "I think that when people talk about staying small, they're really saying they want to be big but still be nimble and creative and innovative and flexible. They also want to still feel like attackers, not defenders."
"The attackers are the entrepreneurs who are disrupting the status quo, trying to change the world, take the hill and have nothing to lose in most cases. They are driven by passion, ideas, and intensity. Large organizations are defenders. They actually are trying to minimize the downside, and hedge risk."
When you started your company or the day you became a manager, you were an attacker. Over time, you carved your niche and became more comfortable. Which are you today, an attacker or a defender?
The business world continuously changes and successful managers change with it. The most successful change ahead of the curve and cause others to follow. The economy has recovered from the worst, but is not sailing along — not yet. In fact, we all see signs that it could slip back to recession. What are your plans to keep your neighborhood customers? Your pizzeria has a niche that serves a core of customers.
Defending is easier, less risky and calmer to lead. Attacking is hard and involves great leadership to inspire your team to change. Will you defend your innovative topping position but attack on the great service like your competitor down the street? Will you defend low-cost leader but attack by adding delivery, including a delivery charge?
Entrepreneurs are afraid that they will not be able to change the world, and that somebody else will. I believe the economy is at an inflection point, it can go up or down from here: Payroll tax hikes, continuing instability in the Middle East, which could erupt at any moment and spike oil prices ... In addition, we have a completely dysfunctional Federal Government that continues to ooze mindless regulation and unwavering support for big business at the expense of small business. Too big to fail likely does not apply to the people that read this post.
To survive 25 years in business requires nimbleness. Now is the time for change. We survived the worst economic shock since the Great Depression. I say, now is the time to attack in order to gain a new pool of consumers. Boldness counts when going after your competition's business. Attacking timidly is equal to a team with a big lead that tries not to lose as the clock runs out. We have all seen the underdog, filled with heart and passion, overcome a deficit and win in the end. Now is the time to go bold, attack your competitor's weakness, attract new followers and win at the game of increasing revenue.
Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of The Food Connector. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.