Manufacturers today face challenges like never before. Obstacles to success are mounting:
• Employee issues and workforce shortages
• Unfair global trade practices
• Crippling regulations
• Currency manipulation
• Intense competition, both domestic and foreign
• An uncertain political environment
One lesson I’ve learned from my years in business is to focus on what I can control, not the uncontrollable. Valuable time, energy and resources can be needlessly squandered on issues upon which you have no impact. Battles that cannot be won should never be fought.
Competing successfully in the global marketplace must begin with a sound strategy. Why is your company in business? What constitutes success? How is success measured? What are the key milestones and the timeline to attain your strategy?
These questions can begin to be answered once you’ve identified your company’s competitive advantage. What do you do better than anyone else? Why do your customers buy from you? Having this information is the centerpiece of your company strategy and it is critical for growth. World-class companies view challenges as an opportunity to step out ahead of their competition.
Another lesson: Growth is an essential component of any strategy. This is not a static world. If we’re not growing, we’re sliding backwards. In an environment of declining sales, you can’t cost cut your way to profitability. Again, top line growth is critical.
In a study of manufacturing CEOs, the common characteristics of all successful companies were:
• Commitment to change
• Aggressive goals
• Investment in talent development
Progressive companies also share a strategy of growth. Companies that don’t drive toward top-line performance will encounter shrinking sales, lost market share, outdated technology, a less motivated workforce and, inevitably, bottom-line losses. History teaches us that change is a certainty, and it seems to come at an ever-increasing rate. Rewards will come to those who focus on the future and embrace all the changes that are surely on the horizon.