There are over 30 million businesses in the United States. Approximately 125 million in the entire world. Those are overwhelming statistics.
When you hear numbers like those it is hard not to ask yourself a few questions. How can this many businesses survive? How can each business differentiate from one another? How is the world not entirely stuck in “perfect competition”? How can my company achieve more than the millions of others who are already operating?
By researching companies that have achieved the most success an entrepreneur can gain insights into what makes a company operate well. There are key traits that extremely profitable organizations tend to share. These characteristics are not requirements for achieving popularity and profit. Rather, they are merely indicators of businesses that are following (intentionally or unintentionally) in the footsteps of those who have built great organizations before them.
Large, powerful, and profitable organizations have a clear and concise vision.
Take for example IKEA. Their vision statement is two sentences – clear and concise;
At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
A company’s vision is their road map – it indicates what they currently do and what they want to become. These few sentences are intended to serve as a guide for executives when making decisions that impact the future of the company.
At the core of successful organizations across the globe is a strong, well thought out vision.
Having a well crafted vision statement is great. Having the integrity to stand by that vision is absolutely necessary.
Organizations that do not wholeheartedly believe in their vision do not last very long. Where as companies whose executives, board members and employees all believe in the vision do.
Take for example the worlds second largest automobile manufacturer Volkswagen. The most recent vision statement released by the company was this:
The Group’s goal is to offer attractive, safe and environmentally sound vehicles which can compete in an increasingly tough market and set world standards in their respective class.
Earlier this month Volkswagen’s CEO resigned from his position amid a global scandal revolving around falsified emissions test results. This is a perfect example of an organization not maintaining the integrity necessary to grow their business.
Integrity and honesty go hand in hand. Any company that aims for prolonged profitability and success must stick by these two mores.
People need leaders. People want leaders. At the center of every successful organization is a passionate, dedicated and driven leader.
Take for example Elon Musk, the executive of Tesla, SpaceX, and a handful of other companies. As a leader of these different organizations, Musk believes strongly in their independent visions, and also has the integrity (as of writing this blog post Elon Musk has not done anything that makes me or anyone else question his honesty) to lead them in a positive direction.
Musk is outspoken, outgoing, and never out of reach. He stands up for his companies and his products, while also making himself accessible to his employees and consumers.
Large, profitable and popular companies have a leader. That leader has a face, she or he is well liked, well-respected and highly regarded.
At the crux of a successful company is the idea of value. Without providing value to consumers a business would not exist in the long run.
Value and vision tend to fall hand in hand. At least, that is to say that the value a company provides and the vision the company has should align with one another.
Take for example the largest business in the world, Apple. What value does Apple provide to their consumers? Steve Job’s answered that question many years ago when he said;
[Apple is here] to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
Apple improves the quality of life for their consumers. That is their value proposition. A less overarching example comes directly from the organization that I currently work for.
At MarketSmart we work tirelessly to help nonprofits raise more money while drastically reducing their costs.
Strategic Planning and Innovation
Many companies fail even when they have the four previously mentioned traits of successful companies. Vision, integrity, leadership and value only get an organization so far.
Remember the statistics from above, over 125 million organizations are competing for profitability and popularity at the same time. Surely some of those companies will go under even though they share characteristics with successful organizations.
This is the result of strategic planning and innovation. Hugely successful businesses are constantly planning their next product or service. Companies that become complacent and cease to innovate will inevitability lose market-share to competitors.
This is why vision statements are fluid, they can change annually, monthly, weekly.
Again, let’s look at Apple. Their track-record of innovation and product development falls hand in hand with their vision statement. Each product the company releases has a strategic place in their long-term plan. There is a reason that Apple is the largest company in the world.