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Shoot to Kill

Letters. I bet we'll get letters about this month's lead feature, "Get in the Ring". Granted, our call to crush your competition could be construed as a bit too harsh for some, but before you judge us, consider the adage, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

So, in these uncertain economic times, it's time to get tough and get going. But before you get up from your desk and scream at your employees, "Things are going to change around here!" remember that tough is not mean. Contrary to what some people think, running a business does not give you the license to be nasty. I've heard too many use "it's business" as an excuse for behavior that borders on the unethical and unacceptable. Just because it's business doesn't give you the right to be a son of a bitch.

And that's not what contributing writer Geoff Williams is suggesting in the article. Instead, you need to re-examine what you do and how you do it and compare that to your competition's practices. Figure out what they do better than you and why. And then adjust accordingly. And immediately.

These are not ordinary times. If you don't set out to crush your competitors, you're leaving yourself wide open to be destroyed by them. To paraphrase golf legend Tiger Woods talking about his fellow golfers on the tour: It's a competition. Friendship goes out the window when we get to the first tee.

In other words, it's kill or be killed.

Of course, there are some competitors you can't eliminate-they're just too entrenched in the market. If you find yourself in that situation, whether you're just starting out or trying to grow your company, you'll find plenty of solid advice in "Push and Shove". One of the keys to success today is, as the authors of a forthcoming book from Entrepreneur Press put it, "niche and grow rich." Discovering the unexploited gap in the market is like finding the proverbial pot of gold.

Like much of what we do, it's a fine line we walk when dealing with competitive matters. But walk it we must. After all, as General George Patton once said: "Opportunities do not come to those who wait. They are captured by those who attack."

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the October 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Shoot to Kill.

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