Seeding Your Start-up With Competitiveness

Richard Shrapnel's 'Seeding Your Start-up With Competitiveness'.

The success of any business comes down to its ability to compete effectively in its market. But that competitiveness does not turn on the product or service that it sells but rather the competitive engine that is built within that business. And that engine is best seeded from the day your business is established.


Active Knowledge Question:

What are you building in your business to ensure it can compete its way into its chosen market and have enduring success thereafter?


Seeding Success

It’s not about the amazing product/service you have invented, nor the platform you have launched or the community hub you have built. None of these things will ensure the competitive success of your business. These are all outcomes – products if you like – of the ability of your start-up to compete.

These products likely took many years to shift from an idea to a possibility to a reality. Many years of thinking, crafting, successes and failures, perseverance, commitment and a compelling image of what you were building, which allowed you to sustain your efforts.

These are the personal traits that empowered you to get your business to start-up, but now you must seed your new enterprise with the same competitive engine that allowed it to launch. There will be many new people joining this new enterprise – your enterprise – and you must ensure they understand what will make your business grow stronger and become a great business.

It is not the product, it’s not profit that will allow your business to grow and endure. It’s the competitive engine that you seed and build in your business that will allow it to out-compete all others.

Look beyond the short-term and pay close attention to those elements that will allow your business to endure and become great.


The Competitive Engine

In today’s marketplace, growing and sustaining a great business is the only real choice.

Why would you want to be in business to be second best and take what others have left on the table for you? To sustain a great business you must have employees at all levels completely focused on delivering great value and defining tomorrow’s markets, today. Even in a startup, this is important.

Note, ‘great’ is not reflected by size but by the type of business you have built.

Innovation, agility and adaptability are critical traits for any competitive business but the real question for any business leader is, ‘Where do these traits come from? And how do you build a business that continuously regenerates these traits and itself?’

There exists within your business, whether you recognise it or not, a competitive engine that determines whether your business performs well or continuously trips over its own feet.

It is operating every moment of every day and influencing every aspect of your business’s performance. Your every action impacts this engine – again, whether you recognise it or not.

The engine is formed the moment you started thinking about your business and continues for the entire lifespan of your business. It sets the ceiling to the success of your business.


The Elements Of The Competitive Engine

Richard Shrapnel's 'Competitive Engine' Chart
Richard Shrapnel’s ‘Competitive Engine’ Chart


The elements of the competitive engine may appear as nothing new from the outside. But the actual characteristics of each ingredient and the way they blend together is where the strength lies.

So be careful not to discount the impact of the competitive engine when it is applied correctly. It’s like training for a competitive sport. Correct technique is important. Skipping elements because they are more difficult than others or having an attitude of ‘good enough’ will just not get you there.

The elements of making a competitive business are:

  1. Start with a worthy leader who has an idea. An idea focused on a need in the community that they believe is unfilled.
  2. Make that idea into a purpose to create a business. A purpose that will provide an enduring direction for the business and will also define the character and nature of that business.
  3. Acknowledge and accept the role of business in our society. One that is not firstly premised around profit and wealth but sustained by an identified need, which can be met. This is where motive emerges and either supports purpose or clashes with it.
  4. Reach out and connect with a team of people who may want to join you in delivering on your purpose and in meeting the community need that you see.
  5. Craft a vision with that connected team and share it widely. Ensure that it is a vision that excites and energises.
  6. Build a shared culture with your team that you as a leader support. This will allow you to deliver on the character and nature of the business required to bring value to the identified community.
  7. Strengthen this core (leadership, team, purpose, vision and culture) as it will form the enduring basis of competitiveness in your business.
  8. Confirm your customer focus and deepen your understanding of the community’s needs.
  9. Assess your capability to deliver value to that community at a level that will allow you to out-compete others in your chosen marketplace.
  10. Craft a competitive strategy (direction, alignment and focus) that will lift your capabilities to the forefront and allow you to deliver the necessary value.
  11. Energise and reward your connected team to deliver on the purpose and value.
  12. Remove barriers to performance and growth.

Finally, continually refine and strengthen all the elements of your engine to compound its competitive strength. Now watch as your business steps forward and leaves every competitor behind.


Mastery Is Required

Making your business competitive is not a ‘set and forget’ exercise. It is not an endeavour where you can undertake a day’s training and then move onto something else.

The ability to compete is an endeavour that must be practised, reinforced and improved continuously. It becomes part of who you are as a business. It becomes your motive for being in business.

Elite athletes don’t practise once and then stop. They don’t win gold and then think it’s all accomplished. It is a continuing discipline of practice and improvement.

Your business exists to compete, to meet the needs of its customers at an ever-emerging and improving value in a constantly evolving marketplace.

You must understand the elements of the competitive engine and continuously monitor and improve the performance of your engine. Your competitive engine will become the lens through which you can judge and measure your business’s capacity and capability to win.


As you are creating your new business, pay close attention to not only the product or service you are seeking to launch but also the type of competitive engine you are building within your business.


The content of this article was taken from my new guide, ‘Compete – Activating The Competitive Engine In Your Business’, which is due for release soon.



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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel