Monday, September 24, 2007

Competition and Zen

What is the Zen reaction to competition in the business world? The traditional model makes competition "the enemy", but the reality is that few businesses are so closely aligned with their competitors products and services that they are even reemotely a commercial threat. Further, a more zen approach to business immediately widens the gap in both products and service between the zen company and any competition, since few companies understand the way a zenentrepreneurial approach to business rapidly moves a business to a higher level significantly immune to competitive pressures.

I can quite honestly say that there is no real competition to my group of companies. Sure there are companies that import and sell food products, there are distributors everywhere ... but the essential elements that define Qualifirst also separate it from the pack. It frees up a lot of time when you drop any shackles of competitive fear. When you take the economic future of the people that work with you seriously and address financial needs fairly and insist on serious work, most people respond.

Happy people do not move to other companies and happy people make the company thrive. Turnover is - after all - people leaving, ... for a reason. It is both logical and Zen for business owners and managers to tackle the reasons people leave rather than get mired in the tarpits of recruitment. Alaska Airlines did this and discovered they were actually hiring 5% of their staff on a continuous basis. This costly churning of resources was stopped its tracks when psychological tests were added to the recruitment to ensure the people hired were fundamentally oriented towards the customer rather than ego-centric. Turnover dropped like a stone in a pool of water.

You spend your time on doing better rather than watching your neighbour for signs of prosperity. I wish people in the industry well, even if they sell into my customers similar products. In most cases I have the better product and "the high ground". I will take the high ground, in both quality and behaviour, every day of the week instead of an extra few thousand dollars. Every one of my competitors have some redeeming features, and I assure you many have horror stories, which I ignore. I wish them well, and since I have absolutely no input into how they behave, I avoid critical comment unless asked.

I recently spent a considerable amount of time lecturing a friend of mine on how to organize and international import export company. The owner was so impressed, she flew in from Germany to see this strange person and sit in one of the sessions where I went into some detail about how to run this kind of business. Time well spend? On the surface ... no. Zentrepreneurism is not about the surface, but about the depths of business ... and freely helping people creates business undercurrents of surprising strength.

-Yves Farges, Founder/CEO Qualifirst Foods

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