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1.1: Introduction

  • Page ID
    21611
    • Anonymous
    • LibreTexts

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    Sara Johnson owns a pet store. She started this small business out of a passion for helping people take care of their pets. The store is off to a good start, but she really worries about how she will grow the business. The competitive environment that surrounds her store is challenging, with the big-box stores having full-blown pet departments, specialty stores improving, and Web-based operations providing access to low-priced supplies. In addition, customer needs seem to change over time.

    In contrast, Ken Smith is a brand manager for a $900 million division of a major consumer products company. Ken worries about the exact same things as Sara, just on a different scope and scale. He has customers who have supported 8% growth of his product lines in each of the last 2 years. His challenge, though, is how to maintain that growth rate (representing $72 million in sales) in markets where competitive imitation over time has led the products to become very similar and competitive advantage more difficult to come by.

    The context and magnitude of these problems are quite different, but, at the root, they are the same. Whether you are Sara or Ken, the general manager of an insurance company seeking to increase policies sold, a United Way director seeking to increase donations, or a human resource director wishing to increase business with internal staff in their hiring decisions, your question is, how do we successfully position against the competition and grow our business? While a complex matter, the task of building growth strategy has some simple foundational ideas. The goal of this book is to teach these fundamental concepts to you so that you can implement them and then teach others.

    The teaching requires breaking down what seems like a complex task into simpler component parts. While you will have no trouble understanding the component parts—such as customer value, competitive position differences, and firm capabilities—what most firms struggle with is how you integrate them in building effective growth strategy. In this chapter, we will consider the fundamentals of competitive strategy at the heart of the framework we use and the reasons why integrating these principles is difficult and rare. Yet we will also point out that businesses that practice such integration make more money. At the core of all this is the notion that you cannot grow your company (or your school, your nonprofit, your relationships, the happiness of your volunteers, for that matter) without really understanding the value your “customers” seek and the value that you can create for them.


    This page titled 1.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Anonymous.

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