It is okay not to be perfect at work. Here are 5 reasons why!

As an interviewee, I distinctly remember being asked this question: What is your weakness? I am sure you would resonate with me and must have found yourself in a similar situation. As I would be ‘well-prepared’ for the popularly asked questions in a job interview, I would promptly reply – Perfectionism. Trying to be perfect at everything I do is my weakness.

Many of us believe that perfectionism is required to progress in our careers. Well, that notion is a myth, and we should instead not let perfection get in the way of our career progression. It is in your best interest not to let perfection become a barrier in pursuit of success.

With the advent of social media, perfectionism (and the pressure of it) has increased over the years. It is easy to make comparisons now, not only with people around you but also with people from across the globe. The world has shrunk, and there are practically no borders, thanks to social media and the internet. 

There is a thin line between setting high standards and perfectionism. There is a big difference between ambition (adaptive perfectionism) and what is commonly referred to as perfectionism (maladaptive perfectionism). Setting goals for yourself and working towards them proactively in a healthy way is good – however, the moment this becomes stressful and feels like a burden, know that you are going downhill. Then it becomes maladaptive perfectionism. Constantly holding yourself responsible and obsessive behaviour towards not making mistakes can have negative consequences.

Perfectionism limits your effectiveness and adds stress. Photo credit: Canva.com

According to a study by Hill, A. P., & Curran, T. (2016). Multidimensional Perfectionism and Burnout: A Meta-Analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 20(3), “pure” perfectionist striving displayed notably larger negative relationships with overall burnout and symptoms of burnout. In terms of moderation, in some cases, perfectionist striving were less adaptive, and perfectionist concerns more maladaptive in the work domain.

Perfectionism has negative consequences – here’s how.

It is crucial that you understand how perfectionism has negative consequences and holds you back. Beyond a point, perfectionism becomes demotivating. When unattainable standards are set, self-doubt creeps in, leading to reduced engagement. You’ll get farther if you embrace your limits and do your best. With this alternative, you’ll be able to invest energy in your responsibilities and relationships, and in turn, people will feel good about working with you.

Rather than incremental improvement, perfectionism becomes a recipe for stagnation. Photo credit: Canva.com

Perfectionism also limits your effectiveness. Since you are so focused on perfection, you tend to ignore the mistakes, learn the lesson from those mistakes and improvise. Rather than incremental improvement, perfectionism becomes a recipe for stagnation.

While you may think that a perfect person must be popular amongst management and admired by peers, surprisingly, it is quite the contrary in reality. Overwork and overthinking become your hallmark. It will be difficult to trust a perfectionist who is more intimidating than welcoming. People would rather not work with you as they will feel pressurized by unrealistic, unattainable expectations.

Perfectionists are usually lonely overworking. Photo credit: Canva.com

Strive for excellence rather than perfectionism

If you want to better your chances of making career progression, identify what kind and level of perfectionism you are. When you realize you are inching towards maladaptive perfectionism, know it’s time to steer clear of the oncoming negative consequences and move towards adaptive perfectionism.

Instead of striving to be perfect at your job, focus on being happy. The happier we feel at work, the more productive we are, which can lead to fantastic career opportunities in the future.

Here are 5 reasons why it is okay not to be perfect at work:

1. Strike a balance

Research shows that half of workplace absences are due to stress and mental illness. Focusing too much on being perfect at your job can severely impact your well-being, professionally and personally. The sooner you accept that there’s only so much you can achieve in a working day, the better. Putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to achieve only the best results can be counterproductive.

2. Learn from others and your own mistakes

When you are not busy being perfect and tunnel-visioned, you will be surprised to see how much you learn from colleagues, junior or senior. Plus, the less time you spend perfecting your work, the more time you have to build positive relationships with your colleagues.

Always remember, to err is human. Photo Credit: Canva.com

3. Less pressure and stress

The less pressure you put on yourself to be perfect at your job, the less you’ll worry about making mistakes. There is always pressure to achieve targets, make profits, expansion plans and so on. You are more prone to make mistakes when there is so much at stake. Always remember, to err is human. It is essential here to learn from those mistakes and not stress about them.

4. Get more done

According to research, the average worker puts in 10.1 overtime hours per week. That’s the equivalent of 469 hours per year! Plus, only one in 10 did so because they loved their job. When you are not stressing about unrealistic targets and deadlines, you will realize how you make time for other (maybe more) important things in life. It could be pursuing a hobby, fitness goals, spending time with friends and family, or travelling. It is crucial for a healthy mind and body and overall well-being.

5. Perfectionism lies in the eyes of the beholder

Understand the true meaning of perfection. It is essential to set priorities whenever you take a project in hand. Setting realistic targets will make you achieve them relatively quickly and feel happier and content. The accomplishment will pave the way toward taking on more tasks and responsibilities.

In a nutshell, excellence is undoubtedly linked with career advancement, but perfection is not. For all kinds of reasons, perfection can limit you—in terms of your performance, relationships, happiness and well-being. No human is perfect, but you can reimagine “perfect” as embracing your imperfections.

Outside the interview, would I call myself a perfectionist? I don’t think so. I always try to achieve the standards I set for myself, or even higher when possible. Furthermore, I follow the mantra, “Work to Live and not Live to work”. What is your mantra at work? Please share in the comments below.

Exciting news – 3 new programmes on the block!

Robert Kennedy College (RKC), a pioneer in Swiss quality online education, offers rigorous but flexible learning programmes. RKC has been offering master’s programmes in exclusive partnership with renowned British Universities for more than two decades. Over the years, it has evolved manifold while providing state-of-the-art, cutting-edge technology in delivering delightful online learning experiences.

RKC boasts a strong portfolio of online master’s programmes, offering online MBA, MSc and LL.M programmes. The students have a wide range of 18 MSc, 23 MBA and 3 LL.M programmes.

And recently, RKC added new programmes to its ever-growing programme portfolio.

It’s exciting news for all students keen on studying an undergraduate/diploma programme at RKC. We now offer a Diploma in Business Administration and BA (Hons) in Business Administration.

Let’s look into some details of these programmes.

Diploma in Business Administration

The diploma programme offers deep insights into business administration and serves as a stepping stone to the BA (Hons) in Business Administration. The programme is offered through our exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, UK, ranked 8th in the world (Times Higher Education Impact Rankings).

The programme consists of the following six Level 5 modules, each worth 20 credits:

  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Services Marketing
  • Culture and International Business System
  • Corporate Social Responsibility in Practice
  • Global Economics
  • Operations Management

The total fee for the programme is 8000 Swiss Francs (CHF). The diploma is offered 100% online and can be completed in as little as nine months.

BA (Hons) Business Administration

The BA (Hons) Business Administration (Top Up) programme is reserved for our Diploma graduates.

This bachelor’s programme enables you to develop an advanced understanding of business administration and management based on knowledge gained from the diploma.

The programme enhances your employability, opening various career paths in different organisations. Equipped with problem-solving and leadership skills, you can improve any business’s performance!

The total fee for the programme is 8000 CHF and can be completed in just one year.

After successful completion, you can choose to venture out to the professional world or continue your education by studying one of our master’s programmes.

This was all about our two new bachelor’s programmes.

RKC also introduced a new Online MSc programme in Business Administration.

MSc in Business Administration

For those who have been looking to strengthen their business acumen and sharpen their understanding of international business, this is the programme for you. 

MSc Business Administration will help you develop a critical awareness of the strategic and operational running of business operations on a global scale. Offered through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, this master’s degree is recognised worldwide.

The University of Salford – “By pioneering exceptional industry partnerships, we will lead the way in real world experiences preparing students for life”

The programme outline includes four taught modules. 

  • Human Resource Management and Development in a Global Context
  • International Relationship Management
  • International Strategic Management
  • International Business in Practice

A conventional dissertation must be submitted at the end of the modules, and a one-week intensive live online residency will help prepare you for the dissertation.

The total fee for the programme is 12000 CHF and can be completed in a minimum of 12 months or up to a maximum of 5 years.

Talk to one of our education advisors on WhatsApp today to learn more about the new programmes and discounts we are currently offering!

Importance of Study plan in master’s studies

Planning is imperative in every step of your master’s studies. Lot of thought process goes into deciding which specialization you choose for the masters, which university you want to apply to, when you want to start, how to finance master’s and planning the support from family and work to successfully complete the programme. 

Once you are past this stage of planning, having enrolled and started with induction module, comes the next stage of planning – planning for the studies for the next 1-3 years, until you finish the programme. You may encounter lot of bottlenecks, confusions, and/or lack of ideas, apprehensions while planning for the studying the master’s programme.

[Pssst: Follow our #Dilo – A Day in the life of a RKC student and find out how our current students and alumni organized themselves in-order to be successful.]

It is not just about creating schedule but formulating a study plan is lot more comprehensive. A study plan helps define your goals, defines methodology for preparation, and thinking ahead of any possible difficulties in a particular subject (your weaknesses). 

Planning is key to success

Before you plan your study plan (pun intended), take the following into consideration:

  1. What is your lifestyle like?
  2. Evaluate your learning style and habits
  3. Study your daily schedule at work and home
  4. Note what times of the day you have free time
  5. How many modules will you be studying at a time?
  6. Which subjects are your strengths and seem easier to study than the ones you dread the most?
  7. Plan how much time you would require reading study material and preparing for assignments
  8. Creating conducive study environment, family, peer and professor’s support

After careful analysis of above pointers, you should be able to formulate a master study plan and pledge to follow it through.

Here are five reasons how a study plan helps you plan better for master’s studies:

1. Improved productivity

Keeping on schedule will help you know what is expected out of you every day and at what time. Without a plan you will loose focus and be everywhere without reaching anywhere. You can prioritise the high importance activities 

2. Better stress management

When you are studying for master’s, you will be juggling with work, home and, study balance constantly. And as our alumni always advice that there will be stressful times, but it’s all about how you manage it. There will one too many instances when you must send that urgent report at work, spend time with your spouse, kids, and pets and moreover, read the study material and prepare for assignment. 

Study plan will help you stay on track and meticulously complete all tasks in time.

3. Time management

All our students and alumni cannot stress enough on the importance of time management. Most popular advice given is – to start early and do not procrastinate. Setting a study plan in place is very effective in avoiding any time wastage and better utilization of this very limited resource – time!

Utilize the limited resources like time effectively

4. Assignment preparation

At RKC, there is no formal examination system. Assessments are done based on assignments. There is a lot of groundwork that goes in preparation and submission of assignments. This includes, and is not limited to, studying the course material, other reference materials, following the discussion on OnlineCampus forum etc. If you have planned what activity you will follow at what time, then it will become a process rather than a burden

Prepare for the unexpected

Life is unpredictable. There is always nice to have a back-up plan for any unforeseen situations. A study plan makes you better equipped to face such challenges and you will be able to navigate your way out of small or big troubles, quickly and easily

We offer personalized study plan that gives you a head start on how the modules are planned over the full-time or part-time schedule. 

Here is a sample personalized study plan for the York St John University’s MBA Leading Innovation and Change:

Talk to our education advisor today to get your own personalised study plan!

Live session with Robert Kennedy College Dean Dr. iur. David Costa

Yesterday, Robert Kennedy College (RKC) Dean, Dr David Costa, conducted a live session introducing our 100% online master’s and bachelor’s degree programmes. This interactive session was held online and was packed with essential facts and information about the college, the universities RKC has partnerships with, and the master’s and bachelor’s programmes we offer. The session received an overwhelming response and participation from all the attendees.

As the session began, Prof. David Costa gave a brief presentation about the history of Robert Kennedy College. He also provided information about the University of Cumbria, the University of Salford and York St John University. The presentation also showed the participant’s sample degrees certificates and transcripts from all three universities.

Prof. Costa also explained the reasons that make RKC’s degrees unique. The factors include (but are not limited to):

  • a practical and flexible online programme
  • minimum duration of one year
  • 100% online, contemporary courses
  • no formal examination system, assessment based on assignments
  • British degrees that are recognized worldwide

Prof. Costa also discussed the fee information and the discounts being currently offered. He also introduced our “ask the Ambassador” initiative, which allows you to chat with either a current student or alumni and ask any programme related questions or about their experience studying at RKC.

After the presentation, Prof. Costa opened the floor to questions from the interested candidates. He answered queries ranging from fee information, assessment method, eligibility requirements, referral discounts, course delivery methods, and more.

Does this look like something you wanted to attend and get information first-hand from the Dean himself? Do not worry. You can watch the live session recording and find answers to your questions. And if you still have questions or feel confident to apply right away, talk to one of our advisors in real-time on WhatsApp.

#DILO – A day in the life of an RKC Master’s student – Guochang Li

As a former Education advisor, if I had to pick one of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students, it would be “How many hours do I need to study?”  

The vast majority (if not all) of our students are working and leading hectic professional lives. Some are motivated and have already decided to undertake a master’s, while others contemplate the unknowns of an online programme. In my experience, two things affect their decision the most.   

First – finances, and second, being able to strike the perfect work, study, and life balance. While I cannot completely help you with the finances (partially yes – check out the discount offers currently being offered on our online MBA, MSc, and LL.M programmes), I thought what I could do to help was to bring some facts to light about the other unknowns – what does a typical day in the life of an online master’s student look like?  

Today, we’re looking at Guochang Li’s typical study days. Guochang, an RKC & York St. John University graduate, offered us these answers:  

An Introduction  

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Which programme did you choose and why?  

Guochang Li (GL): Innovation Leadership and Consulting. In my opinion, innovation is the vitality for an enterprise to survive and develop. Individuals with innovation leadership have more substantial competitive advantages in their career development. Innovation requires individuals to keep an open mind, which is beneficial for a good communication between individuals and society.

The Study Plan   

VK : How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

GL: I planned to put 2-3 hours per day into studying the module. But the reality is – that is not enough. Especially for the amount of reading that is required. So I ended up setting about 3-4 hours per day eventually.  

VK: What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

GL: Early mornings were the most suitable time to study for me.

Guochang allocated approximately 2to 3 hours a day for module study

VK: How much time did you devote for each assignment?  

GL: About 2 weeks for the mid-assignment, and 4 weeks for the final assignment.

Travelling and Communication  

VK: Did you travel for work? How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

GL: Travelling (especially the business travelling) do impact the study. I need to pur more time before or after travelling to catch up on my study plan.

VK: How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

GL: The forum and email were the best way for me to interact with professors and peers. I also joined the study group of my classmates in the same time zone. We helped each other and discussed for studies together.

A typical day as a master’s student  

VK: What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?  

GL: I divided my day as follows: Early morning(2 hours): read the recommended material to understand the courses, and make reading notes. Lunch break or afternoon(1 hour): go through the new courses, and make notes. Evening (1 hour): reading. Weekend Morning: Reading, or writing the assignment.

Any advice?  

VK:Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.  

GL: 1. Reading the recommended material is very important for understanding the courses. In my experience reading at least 1-2 study material of each course comes helpful in the module study and in writing the assignment. 2. Planning module study and assignment writing, and following the plan 3. Keep the deadlines in your mind to complete the plan, and allow yourself 2-3 days to review and revise the assignments. 4. Use reading tools, as Acrobat for reading, Zotero for notes.

 

Guochang used reading tools, as Acrobat for reading, Zotero for note…

All right, so this was a sneak peek of a typical day in Guochang’s life as a master’s student. I hope you find it insightful and informative and that it gives you an idea of what to expect when you enrol for our master’s programmes. Watch this space as we have many more interesting insights coming up! 

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Anicet

We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled the challenges of online learning. Hopefully, this will help you to make an informed decision.

There is no better way but to learn from those who came before and see if what worked for them will help you become a better student!

An Introduction

Who are you, really?

I am Anicet.

Which Uni are you studying with?

University of Cumbria

Which programme did you choose and why?

Energy & Sustainability. Chose this to acquire skills and knowledge in environment impact assessments and protection.

The Study Plan

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?

I took one module at a time. Depending on the volume of reading and assignments, spent on average 2 hours a day

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

Early morning and lunch break

How much time did you devote to each assignment?  

Research, book/articles selection and reading, writing and reviewing took a lot of time. I would say on average 40 hours per week.

Photo credit: Canva.com

Travelling and Communication  

How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

Except the time seating on the plane, no major impact as long as I was connected to the Internet

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

It was not a big deal since I spent most of the time in Kinshasa, DR Congo.

A typical day as a master’s student  

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?  

Wake-up at 5:00 AM. Meditation, Gym and toilets till 6:40 AM. Breakfast at 7AM. Arrive at office at 8:30 AM. Stay at work till 6:00PM. Arrive at home at 6:25 PM. Diner at 8:00 PM and bed at 10:00PM

Photo credit: Canva.com

Any advice?  

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.  

Prepare and start reading materials/books ahead of time. Do not wait until last minute to work on your assignment. Avoid overloading oneself with many modules at a time.


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this place for similar blogs. So, if you have been thinking about doing a master’s degree and now understand how to study better for an online programme, look at our programmes and see if anything interests you.

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and answers to any questions you may have.

Student Interview – Tina

Henrik Johan Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright and theatre director, once said, “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” Unfortunately, after his death, this quote was plagiarized and para-phrased into what we know today.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Group photo of RKC 2018 Graduation @YorkStJohn in the Quadrangle

But motion picture has completely changed the way we consume data. Not only does it enable us to take in more information in a short time, but it also makes the information more credible. Hearing it straight from the source makes a difference. 

Robert Kennedy College (RKC) is pleased to share with you, our readers, students, alumni, and potential students a series of video interviews with some of our graduates, sharing their challenges and tips and tricks for successful studies. It does not matter the programme or the university these students graduated from, they were all students of RKC, they all faced similar challenges in doing a master’s programme online, they all faced a decision – to do or not to do an online master’s degree.

Here is your chance to hear directly from our students and hopefully help you make an informed decision, to help you study better, or simply to motivate you to live your dreams and to achieve your goals. 

Meet Christina, RKC alumni and graduate of York St John University, as she shares her thoughts and decision-making process on why she choose to get back to studying and the challenges she faced.  

York.mba – student’s story – Tina

Hopefully this interview has answered some your questions about RKC and doing a master’s programme online, and please watch this place for more similar blogs. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for a more personalised discussion of your needs and best match with the programmes we offer, and the application process.

4 ways in which International Business Law affects trade

In the global economy that we live in today, everything and everyone is connected and inter-dependent. The demand for companies to grow multi-nationally has grown exponentially since the pandemic started last year. Internet boom in the late ’90s and 2000s had been instrumental in the dramatic rise in international business. Now, it seems to have exploded manifold.  

The scale and scope of business operations are not limited to one country. While the raw material is procured in one country, it is manufactured or assembled in a different country and marketed and sold in yet another. Businesses have crossed boundaries set by a country’s borders. They operate and thrive on foreign land. It is however not the same as operating in the homeland. Before setting foot on the foreign land and expanding, a business must familiarise itself with the land’s laws, legal system, social and economic conditions, political system, and culture. All these factors have a significant impact on the running of the business and its bottom-line.  

Laws affect every business, whether it is being operated as a ‘brick and mortar store or selling goods/services online. Different countries have different legal systems established to protect the country’s economy and trade and preserve their social, economic, cultural, political environment.

National governments have an important relationship with global businesses. Governments tend to control and manage their trade relationships with an array of policies like taxation laws, tariffs, subsidies, currency controls, import-export policies, free-trade zones, and so on. For instance, China is a Communists government, and the government formulates and strictly controls all business sector laws.

On the other hand, India has a democratic government, and business laws are made to protect small businesses and consumers.

There are three types of legal systems: 1. Civil law, 2. Common law and 3. Religious law. Countries like the United States, India, and Australia use common law systems; Germany, France, and Russia use civil law systems and countries like Pakistan, Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran operate on Islamic laws. Therefore, it is imperative for any business to fully understand the legal system that it is going to operate in and abide by its rules and regulations for conducting a business.  

Here are four ways in which international business law affects trade and things every business must research well before venturing into the country or region to avoid any failures:  

1.   Taxes  

Taxes take a major cut out of a company’s profits. When it comes to taxes, companies should do their homework well. From how much taxes are levied on the goods and services, manufacturing or selling, to how the taxes should be charged, i.e., either include taxes in the sale price or charge extra tax, the businesses must follow the standards set by the law. Companies like to operate in countries that offer attractive tax regimes with low tax rates on income, capital gains, and dividend income. Singapore, for these reasons, has been one of the most popular locations for companies to set up offices in the country and enjoy its lowest corporate tax rates.  

2.   Intellectual property  

Legalities around intellectual property can be complicated and expensive. Trademarks, copyright, and patents are intellectual properties that every business needs to guard and protect. Countries take extra measures to attract international business by establishing stringent IP protection laws and reducing piracy. Governments across the world have established several acts and international conventions to protect international businesses and resolve issues if any arise. The Paris Convention for the protection of Industrial property, the United Nations Convention on contracts for International Sale of Goods, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty, the Nice Agreement, the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague agreement are a few of the many international treaties formed to protect international business and trade.  

3.   Supply Chain and Infrastructure  

Establishing an effective and efficient infrastructure is the backbone of any successful business. Cheap sources of raw material can help companies to have huge profit margins. International business laws exist that regulate international shipping, export and import duties.  

4.   Labour Laws  

While cheap labour attracts foreign investment into a country, labour laws exist to protect human resources from any exploitation. The textile and footwear industry are among the many industries that have shifted their manufacturing operations to Asian countries that offer cheap labour. The Rana Plaza collapse, an incident in a Bangladeshi factory, happened in 2013 but is still fresh in the memory of many who lost their near and dear ones in this event. The plaza collapsed, killing thousands of its workers due to large structural cracks and poor labour protection laws. The incident stirred up an international movement and led to the establishment of International Labour Law (ILO). The ILO is the source of international labour law that is embodied in its Conventions, recommendations and the documents that emanate from the supervisory mechanism responsible for applying those international labour standards.  

These are a few of the things that any organization should take into account before venturing out into international business. If these legalities are correctly taken care of, legal counsels suggest that companies can maximise their bottom lines and enjoy huge revenues and profits. If International business law interests you or you would like to understand it better, join our one-year Online Master of Laws programme specialising in International Business Law. 

Is your company competitive? Here are 4 strategies to make it one! 

“No competition, no progress”

Bela Karolyi 

I could not agree more with the world-renowned Hungarian-born Romanian American gymnastics coach, who transformed gymnastics coaching in the US and was responsible for bringing home numerous international laurels. His words are not only applicable in sports but are equally fitting in the business world as well.  

Businesses do not operate in isolation. Gone are the days of monopoly where companies could dominate a market or industry. Today, in the fast-moving-digital-world, every business, big or small, faces stiff competition to hold a fair share of the market.  

Carefully analyze company’s competitive environment when formulating a business plan

When formulating a business plan, it is essential to analyse the company’s competitive environment. The competitive environment is the intricate external system in which the business operates and comprises of several factors or elements that affect and shape the industry. These elements include, and are not limited to:  

1. Competitors – Direct and Indirect  

2. Government regulations and laws  

3. Suppliers  

4.  Substitutes  

5. Technological trends  

6. Demographic Composition  

7. Network of Distribution  

8. Corporate culture  

Industrialists, innovators, and entrepreneurs need to think critically about these factors that affect the company’s profitability and success. (Also, check out our blog on 7 ways to improve critical thinking). It is imperative to understand the competition landscape and scope. This is necessary to prepare the kind of resources, investment, and technology required to build a sustainable and profitable business. In the good ol’ days, companies could thrive with little or no competition. In comparison, companies now must adopt new and innovative means to compete with other firms in the business environment and to have a competitive advantage over them. Strategic forecasting, planning, and implementation can lead to success in competition. Various strategies can help businesses build undefeatable and sustainable products and services.  

Caption – PESTEL model (reference)

Here are 4 strategies that can help build competitive advantages for your business:  

1. Cost Leadership  

Businesses run for profit. By definition, profit is a financial gain realised due to the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent on buying, operating, or producing a product or a service. It is one of the oldest tricks in the (business) book to be a cost-leader. When a business decides to pursue the cost-leadership strategy, it vows to provide the goods or services at a competitively lower price than any of its rivals can ever offer.

Such firms operate on the lowest cost structure, have reasonable control over the entire supply chain, suppliers, and raw materials, and have tight controls on the whole value chain activities. Walmart, IKEA, McDonald’s, Primark, and RyanAir are a few examples of firms that attribute their business success to a cost-leadership strategy.  

2.  Differentiation  

“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it  differently”.

Steve Jobs  
Why HERMES?

Offering a low-cost product is not always an option in a competitive environment. Different consumers have different demands. Companies, by providing high-end quality products, also influence many customers’ buying decisions, who would otherwise choose the cheaper alternative. Even though companies always intend to keep their costs low, they are willing to spend on research and development costs, marketing, customer service, or innovation to develop a niche product or service, for which consumers are willing to pay a premium price. Apple, Starbucks, Tesla, Tiffany & Co., Emirates, and Hermes are examples of companies whose thoughtful approach to differentiation and compelling storytelling strategy makes millions of consumers spend premium prices for their products and services.  

3. Focus  

This strategy is quite different from the above two strategies. Business here focuses its primary strategy, i.e., operating at a lower cost or adding value but on a limited market, much narrower in scope than the broader cost leader or differentiator. The company intends to make concentrated efforts based on either a particular buyer group, geographic uniqueness, a unique product line, or a special attribute appealing to a niche customer class to cater to the specific demand of a limited number of customers. Gucci, Rolls Royce, Diet Coke, NetJets, and DC Design are a few examples of companies that have successfully adopted the focus strategy.  

4. Strategic group  

“Anytime you find someone more successful than you, especially when you’re both in the same business, you know they are doing something that you aren’t”. 

Malcom X  
The Cosmetics Industry has close knit competition and companies follow similar strategies to build competitive advantage

Groups of businesses of comparable size and range that operate in the same industry and follow the same strategies to build competitive advantages are termed strategic groups. The competition is so closely knit in such environments that even a small movement by the competitor affects the others’ market position. It helps build a strategic group map to identify businesses’ closest competitors and evaluate how your company is positioned in the industry. Common examples of strategic groups are the restaurants, retailers, cosmetic brands, and the aviation industry.  

These are four strategies, more commonly known as Michael Porter’s ‘generic’ business-level strategies as these can be applied to any business, by any firm in any industry.  

Which strategy do you think is the most powerful in building a competitive business advantage in your own context? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  

Can entrepreneurship and innovation be taught? 

Can you think ‘out of the box’?

When I was in school, let’s just say a decade ago.. okay two decades ago, I remember being taught the principles of economics – theory of demand and supply, demand and supply curve, market equilibrium, price ceilings and floors, so on and so forth. Later as a business student at university, I learned about economic models and even more complex financial terms about running a business, such as behavioural economics, macro and microeconomic policies, government policies, international trade and its impact. I have no recollection of ever being asked to or being taught to ‘think out of the box’ (the economics book in this case).  

The businesses, usually large traditional corporations, family-owned companies big and small, ran on the business theories and principles established many years ago.  

Fast forward to the 21st century; I see a new world around me. The businesses are no longer just large corporations run on an old-school of thought. There has been a paradigm shift in the way the companies are run and how they are conceptualized in the first place. I am sure everyone remembers the time of late 90s and early 00s – ‘the infamous dot com/bubble era’ that vowed to change the world and as a matter of fact, it did change the world! 

The bubble burst vowed to change the world

The bubble era engendered a trend of entrepreneurship of a scope like never before. The entrepreneurs – the new gurus of the business world – worked on very different business principles and business plans. Business plans were mainly driven by the strategy of growing big fast, being ubiquitous, insanely high stock market valuations, and focusing on branding and marketing to gain market share. And to establish a new trend, the essential ingredient was innovation.  

Hence, the birth and rise of entrepreneurship and innovation.  

In today’s evolving business environment, entrepreneurship and innovation have become increasingly popular. There has been a notable rise in the entrepreneurial activities around the globe in the last decade. Even the corporations are paying heed to the increasing value of innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset in the workplace. It is now believed to correlate to organisation’s profitability and growth directly.  

There are several forms of entrepreneurship, such as Innovative entrepreneurship, social, scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, big and small entrepreneurship. To give some real-life examples, Tesla aimed to innovate the automobile industry by introducing luxurious yet affordable and efficient electric cars. On the hand, Uber, a scalable start-up business entrepreneurship, started with an idea to disrupt the taxi industry and attracted various capitalists’ interest and bagged millions of dollars in investment, scaling the business to an otherwise inconceivable level, growing the company worldwide.  

All entrepreneurs have one thing in common – Innovation

And all the entrepreneurs (and their companies) like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, J.K Rowling, Jeff Bezos (the list cannot be exhaustive), have one thing in common – Innovation. Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Tesla, Facebook, and Amazon witnessed tremendous business success through innovation by triggering a paradigm shift or evolving an old product with new technology.  

The benefits and increasing importance of innovation and entrepreneurship are manifold. As mentioned earlier, corporations are also realising their impact on their success. A study by Microsoft and McKinsey states that organisations show a direct correlation between employee retention and innovation, and innovative firms are more likely to retain employees. The study also reveals that companies that were assessed as having ‘innovative cultures’ were twice as likely to expect double-digit growth.  

So, the question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur, is naturally innovative, or such attributes can be learnt, and whether individuals can be  adequately trained to be innovative entrepreneurs.  

The question remains if someone is a born Entrepreneur

“Profound growth requires innovation and, to foster innovation, you need people to feel trusted and supported to experiment and learn. There can be real returns for leaders who learn to let go and coach teams to constantly improve.”

Dr. Parke.  

To answer the question, yes, entrepreneurship and innovation can be taught, and with proper education, these skills can be mastered. By studying entrepreneurship and innovation, you can learn the underlying principles of starting a business, how to avoid common pitfalls, pitch ideas effectively, validate your product, develop a solid business model, and how to set yourself up for success in a field where failure is common. A good entrepreneurship and innovation programme will expose you to the challenges, contexts, and implications of entrepreneurship and provide you with a sense of the difficulties inherent in starting up and running a new enterprise. You will develop a critical understanding of contemporary discourses surrounding entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship as they are found in a range of national cultures and organisational contexts. The programme brings together relevant contemporary academic theory and research with a practical understanding of activities.  

We offer an online MBA Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme specifically designed to foster entrepreneurial and innovation skills to enable you to have a career managing innovation in existing firms and found new ventures. You will learn how organisations build value by applying entrepreneurial practices, the challenges and opportunities typically facing new and existing businesses, and the ability to design and implement creative strategies. Talk to one of advisors to find out more about the programme.