The key to winning in business is to always think and act differently from the competition, even if it means breaking with tradition. A great example in the news these days: Macy's deciding to break with its 155 year history of being closed on Thanksgiving Day this year so that shoppers can get a head-start on Black Friday.
While many will accuse Macy's of somehow desecrating Thanksgiving, I admire the entrepreneurial spirit. All businesses and entrepreneurs should aggressively seek ways to take advantage when others are stuck in old rituals.
What lessons can you learn from this bold move?
1. Traditions don't make it to a financial statement. While most American's immediately frown on the idea of businesses being opened on Thanksgiving, Macy's understands that holding to traditions just because, is not smart business. In order to maximize, you must be willing to break with traditional ideas.
2. Dominate the competition. Look for places where you have a distinct and unique opportunity to dominate and not compete. Since 1924, Macy's has brought the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade to American households. No other retailer has that historical presence and opportunity. Competition might create great innovations but in business, when you compete and don't dominate, you will most often see lower margins.
3. Operate with urgency. Why wait until tomorrow to get what you can get today? When great entrepreneurs and companies are in their greatest growth periods, they operate with a ferocious urgency. Eliminate every reason to put off the sale you can make today until later. Macy's wants to capitalize on its presence and then push for sales the same night rather than hoping for them the next day. Macy's doesn't want to leave anything to chance by waiting for Black Friday and you shouldn't either. In today's business environment, it's not the big that eat the small; it's the fast that eat the slow.
4. Consumers are fragile and uncertain. Macy's execs recognize that the American consumer is tapped out and fragile. Savings rates nationwide are as low as before the 2008 economic contraction and Macy's isn't leaving anything to chance. While the economy seems to be slowly improving, no one thinks we are out of the woods. Macy's is doing whatever it takes to make the most of the business environment.
Despite the attention Macy's will get from naysayers for breaking with tradition, this bold move gives the brand a chance to stand out at a time when competition between retailers is at its toughest. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you never want to compete. You want to be first and you want to dominate.