When looking to really define what ‘being the best’ actually means, I decided to look at what I see in the businesses I’ve worked with and studied around the world that are clearly considered the absolute best at what they do, and who charge accordingly.
These are the characteristics, and perhaps a self-review checklist, for any business that is at the absolute top of its game.
1. They have a deep and ingrained culture that is all about being excellent at what they do
Without a doubt, these businesses have an internal culture that is absolutely, and probably obsessively, about being the best. Generally, this refers to their product or service, but it tends to flow through to every part of their business. The culture is so strong that being anything, but the best is not really considered an option, and it shows.
2. They are totally committed – to everything
Being ‘committed’ covers so much territory. The businesses that are the best at what they do have a high level of commitment to their people, their customers, their suppliers and their industry. They are loyal, they are considered. Their commitment is simply to do what they do better than anyone else – and they understand they can’t do that on their own.
3. They are very competitive (like, super competitive)
They are competitive. Being considered the absolute best at what they do, whether it’s in their town, their city, their state, their country or the world – they want to keep that title and they will work incredibly hard to do exactly that. They invest in learning, skill development, getting better and better all the time, working to hone that competitive advantage. Think of an elite athlete. These are elite businesses.
4. They are incredibly brave
Businesses that are the best have to be brave because it generally means doing what others won’t do, and that feels like a lonely and isolated place for most people. To be the best means you have to buck against the norm, you have to get out of every comfort zone imaginable, and you have to be prepared to move into unchartered waters, with many obstacles.
5. They are creative
Creativity is such an unexplained characteristic and influencer in successful businesses. Living in such a rapidly changing world, one that is anything but consistent, requires creativity not only to succeed but to just keep up. They are creative with their products and services, but also with how they manage their people and their customers. They can think outside of the norm and they aren’t afraid to try new – in fact, they thrive on it.
6. Their products are truly extraordinary and easily the best
Clearly the end result – the thing people buy and use – has to be the best. Whether it be a meal in a restaurant or a piece of art for the wall, or a new computer or a hotel on a tropical island or a hamburger – the product really is leaps and bounds ahead of their competitors.
7. The services they offer are at the highest professional level
Many businesses are selling a service rather than a product – does all of this ‘being the best’ apply here? Absofrickinglutely. In fact, I think service-based businesses have even more opportunity to charge more for what they do, because there are generally so many more opportunities to create extraordinary interactions and experiences.
8. They treat everyone with respect
While the businesses that are the best often battle with an internal love/hate relationship with perfectionism, I’ve noticed there is a lot of respect. They respect themselves and what they do, and by association they respect their customers and suppliers just as much. Respect is a word that comes up often in my discussions. For example, I love talking to chefs who have established relationships with suppliers who grow amazing food. There is so much mutual respect and admiration.
9. They don’t just serve people, they create experiences everywhere
Businesses that are the best at what they do understand the need to create experiences, a concept that comes up time and time again throughout this book. If your business simply does transactions instead of creating experiences, you will struggle to ever become the best at what you do. But I’ll talk more about this deep, deep idea a little later.
10. They are constantly evolving
Evolution – the backbone of survival. In today’s business world we are all fighting a battle to stay relevant with our customers, and one of the most important elements of being successful at this is to constantly evolve. What needs to evolve? Everything. Not just the products and services we are selling, but how we do business, how we sell ourselves, our growth, our business – everything, everything, everything.
11. They deliver
This one is pretty simple – they deliver on their promises. What they say is what they do, and they have built a reputation on exactly that. If you buy a brand-new Rolls-Royce, I’m pretty certain you are going to get exactly what you wanted, and every single expectation you have will be not only met but exceeded.
12. They are curious
OK, I’m going to do a little name-dropping here, but I’ll do it for a point. A few years back I had the pleasure of being part of a speaker line-up at a big event that included the likes of Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss, with some 10,000 people attending.
Waiting in the green room to get ready to do our various things, I had the opportunity to have a short chat to Richard Branson – and what I found humbling was while I got all giddy and tongue-tied, he started asking me all kinds of questions about my books, my speaking, doing business in Australia, flying (did I like Virgin, and what could they do better here?) – question after question. He’s a curious man.
Andrew Griffiths is a small business author. This article first appeared in the September/October issue of INCLEAN magazine
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