1. Expand globally – expand your thinking of your customer base to GLOBAL. For example, as China and India expand in purchasing power, your customer base can expand exponentially. If you don’t go after it, your competition will.
  2. Value add – think about your value add. Even though it’s likely that commodity businesses will continue to suffer when compared with low labor cost, low tax rate, less regulated countries, businesses that focus on value-add (even those with a commodity base) can achieve an advantage.
  3. Supply chain is emerging as a strategic function – especially as the world is changing and companies have suppliers and customers around the globe, supply chain emerges as critical. For example, just in the last few years, the impact of Katrina, the Los Angeles port issues, the China quality issues and wars in various areas of the world have had significant impacts on companies’ ability to compete profitably. My view is that the companies that view supply chain as a strategic advantage will emerge with an edge vs. competition.
  4. Focus on people and education – the business environment is becoming more and more complex, especially as it expands globally, has global, complex supply chains and competes in unchartered territory. There is a serious shortage of leaders – the companies that value and develop these leaders will succeed. Why is training the first budget item to be thrown out? So long as it is value added education and training, it should be the #1 priority. How else will employees come up with the next value-add idea, supply chain advantage, etc?
  5. Value creativity, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit – in order to achieve points 1-4 above, these qualities emerge as critical. For example, how can we expect to develop a value-add idea when we “punish” mistakes? We must reward mistakes! My philosophy has been to reward mistakes (people willing to take risks and be innovative); just not trends of the same mistakes.