One key to business success is knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
Too often, companies find themselves in trouble because they venture outside of what they are good at. Quite often today, you hear that you should really know your core competencies -- what it is your company does or specializes in that will give it a competitive edge in the marketplace.
In any leadership position within a company, it is very important to know what sets the company apart from others. It is important for this message to be articulated throughout the organization so each person is on the same page.
For example, we at SBN Magazine are in the publishing business. When someone asked me what our core competencies are, I said we write stories, sell ads, mail out our publications to top decision-makers within each company and gather information about our readers to develop our database.
After giving it more thought, I realized the importance of the answer -- so much so that we decided to focus on each point to see how we could further develop these areas. Below is a detailed version of our core competencies and how we are mastering them.
1. Content generation -- Our unique approach to local business coverage has the garnered the recognition of the journalism community, as well as of our readers. In the last year alone, SBN Magazine has received eight awards for excellence, including SBN Magazine Cleveland being recognized as the best business publication in Northeast Ohio.
2. Sales and marketing -- SBN Magazine has developed an extensive client list that includes an array of industry-leading organizations such as UPS, PNC Bank, AT&T and Arthur Andersen.
3. Market reach -- SBN Magazine saturates almost 100 percent of its desired targeted audience in its markets. Out of our targeted audience, 92 percent of the people who receive our publication are decision-makers by title.
4. Market knowledge -- SBN Magazine has developed an extensive database of buying trends of middle market companies.
I challenge each of you to put yourselves through a similar exercise if you haven't done so already. If someone were to ask you to name your core competencies, could you? Once you have outlined each of them, come up with a plan on how you can focus on each area and take it to the next level this year.
Are you performing as highly in each area as you should be? Outlining your competencies and examining how well you're performing in each area can give you insight into which parts of your company need the most attention.
Performing this type of analysis is another way to keep your edge in an increasingly competitive environment. Fred Koury (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president and CEO of SBN Magazine.