Peak performing companies are strategic. Business is like a good game of chess. All you need is a little strategy and winning is in your control.

So many companies just open up the door and literally hope they get business based on shallow and simple reasoning. I believe peak performing companies aren’t necessarily smarter than everyone else, they simply execute better strategy than everyone else.

So the million-dollar question is, how strategic is your company?

If you’re not, all you need to do is to answer a few simple questions and I bet you can be transformed into a strategic thinking company.

1. Find your niche

Question number one: What is your niche? Every smart company has a niche. If you don’t have a niche, put this article down and finish reading later and go and find one. If you can’t find one, even better, create your own. Once you have a niche, your next step is to own that niche. If you own a niche, there is no better strategy than that.

In 1965 Frederick Smith wrote a term paper at Yale University basically criticizing the mail system and its reliance on using pedestrian routes to deliver mail and how inefficient it was. The teacher wasn’t impressed, and gave him a C.

In 1971, Smith stayed focused and passionate about his beliefs and launched Federal Express. The rest is history, Federal Express changed business and shipping forever by creating and owning a niche in an industry that already existed. He found out how to do it better.

“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” We have all run to Federal Express right before closing and marveled that they could still deliver on their promise and bail us out. If you are anything like me, you loved them even more because they could save Christmas.

How many times have they bailed you from our poor planning and last minute panic from procrastination? What a brilliant niche! That niche didn’t exist so Smith created it and instantly owned it. The irony is that now we have several carriers that provide overnight shipping like our own FEDERAL government.

Can’t think of a better example than Frederick Smith and Federal Express. Smith had a vision of a niche and walked it out until it became a reality. Some dreamy-eyed college kid got annoyed and figured it has to be a better way and created it. I am sure it had some challenges but he figured it out. Lesson learned is that smart companies are strategic in building a niche.

2. Where are you headed?

Now that you are focused on owning a niche, here is my next strategic question for you. Where is your industry headed? In the next five to 10 years, what do you expect your industry to look like? Will there be more consolidation, will it be totally online, how much will technology and the millennial movement change how your industry operates?

If you are not sure, ask around, read books and magazines, attend your association’s events so you can develop a strategy to not get left behind at the very least.

But here is an even better strategy. Once you have a handle on where your industry is headed, don’t meet it there, beat it there. If you get there first, it can help you gain more market share and reposition your company as a larger player in your industry.

3. Here’s your homework

If you really want to have some fun, strategy is where it is, my friend. I have some homework for you, and unlike Smith’s professor, I am not foolish enough to doubt you.

Go and write a term paper for yourself called a business plan and execute it based on the confidence you have in what you see. This paper needs to be based on niches and a fast-charging business environment that is constantly changing.

So here is the assignment; I want it double spaced, and you can use any font. What do you want your company to look like 10 years from now and what niche will you own?

You see, strategic thinkers aren’t smarter than you, they just ask themselves the right questions, come up with the right answers and execute. And strategic thinkers don’t live day to day or check to check, strategic thinkers live decade to decade. Your entire world can and will be different if you keep asking yourself the right questions. Checkmate…I mean, check your strategy, mate.

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