Vusi Thembekwayo On Being Better Than Your Competition

Vusi Thembekwayo On Being Better Than Your Competition


Don’t believe all the hype. It’s all ‘conference speak’ that’s not grounded in reality. The fact of the matter is: You don’t have to be the best at everything you do to win in business.

If you seek to be the best at everything, you will almost certainly not succeed. Business is about being the best at what matters most to the customer.

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Know where to focus

As entrepreneurs, we spend our days making decisions on how we can expand our talents and resources to maximise a return.

Our entire existence hinges on our ability to generate the highest output with the lowest input. This infers that we need to know where to focus and what to invest in.

Think about how Android absolutely destroyed the Symbian platform. Nokia was running a ubiquitous platform and had monopolised the market. So, Google didn’t seek to make better phones, and achieve the lowest prices, and develop a better operating system, and build a better marketplace for apps, and, and…

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Instead, the company focused on developing an operating system that was open to a community of developers and therefore leveraged their expertise.

The selling price of the handsets, the manufacturing cost and the distribution was not what the Android community was concerned with. They found a single strategic lever that was most important to their consumers — and won that battle.

Win where it matters

If you want to win in your marketplace, stop trying to be the best at everything. Rather be the best at the single thing that really matters.

Apple is a great example to illustrate this point. Beyond the marketing hype, it is actually pretty average at most things. There aren’t a great number of things that set it apart from the competition.

In many ways, it operates exactly like its competitors. So why is Apple the world’s most valuable company? In my opinion, it has the best user interface for its platform. Nothing ‘swishes’ like an Apple product. That one thing that elevates it above others. And, importantly, it is an element that is incredibly important to its users.

On areas where they hope to gain a strategic advantage in future, Apple has also taken the decision to be above-parity. So it has Apple Music, the latest version of which is unrivalled by anything else in the market and took the view that it would win the war of the eco-system, or at the very least, be ahead of anything else out there.

A simple example

Now imagine a restaurant operating in the really competitive market of Greenside in Johannesburg. How might it apply the principles I have referred to? Refer to the table below for some ideas.

Discovery does not have the best medical insurance offering. It doesn’t pay the highest amount of claims, nor does it have the best benefit structures. So why does it have such a renowned name in the marketplace? Vitality.

It was the first company to bring a platform to an insured party that enables them to self-determine the premium based on personal behaviours.

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In other words, its value offering was that you would get to co-create your premium with the company. Most of their competitors have since caught up, but you get the point.

In building your strategy, think about where you want to win, and build a strategy that will allow you to leave the competition in the dust.

Vusi Thembekwayo
Mr. Vusi Thembekwayo has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of at RBA Holdings Ltd. since May 14, 2013. Mr. Thembekwayo has already collected numerous accolades and awards as businessperson, entrepreneur and international public speaker. Mr. Thembekwayo completed a PDBA and a course on advanced valuation techniques with the Gordon Institute of Business Science and completed a Management Acceleration Programme (Cum Laude) with the Wits Business School. His speaking achievements include the international hit talk “The Black Sheep” which he delivered to the Top 40 CEOs in Southern Africa, addressing the Australian Houses of Parliament and speaking at the British House of Commons. To add to this, Vusi speaks in 4 of the 7 continents over 350 000 people each year.

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