The Sweet Science


In the sport of boxing, also known as the sweet science, fighters of similar weight compete by class — heavyweight, middleweight, lightweight, and flyweight – to allow for a fair bout. It makes sense because generally someone from a lighter weight class would not have much of a chance against a heavier fighter. However, occasionally, a fighter will come along that can “punch above their weight.”

Used figuratively, the phrase “punching above their weight,” can describe a situation where a company competes against larger firms based on some strategic advantage. For example, a small specialized engineering firm located next to a great STEM university may have access to students and faculty that allows them create new products faster than larger firms and to compete globally using networking advantages.

Similar to boxing, as a class, midsize firms often “punch above their weight” to achieve the unexpected. Some of the things they do to create advantage include:

  • execute changes – pivot quickly in response to market conditions
  • employ pricing flexibility
  • emphasize personalized customer relationships
  • maintain a high level of product/service specialization
  • accept the challenge to innovate continuously

These and other strategies that allow midsize firms to “punch above their weight” ultimately enable them to build a more favorable won / loss record. SBTDC’s Strategy & Growth unit has a demonstrated record of punching well above its weight and can help you do the same. Give us a call to learn more.

FYI — in the news: Why Aren’t American Teenagers Working Anymore?

Grounded Decisions


 Decisions drive behavior and behaviors drive performance. In their white paper, “Evidence-Based Strategies to Improve Workplace Decisions: Small Steps, Big Effects,” Dalal and Bolunmez provide a clear look at approaches applicable across a wide variety of workplace decisions. Of real value, their suggestions are reasonably simple to apply. Why is this topic important? The authors

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A Single Woven Fabric


 When you consider the critical practices (i.e., strategy, execution, culture, structure and leadership) that form the essential foundation of a successful business, it is really no wonder that midsize firms are so stable. For these firms, the ongoing execution-gap encountered by many just does not seem to apply.   Why is that? Perhaps it is because,

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 It is rare to hear the owner of a midsize business say, “things are comfortable.” That is because everyone has his or her own comfort level. It is also because, by its nature, there is always tension in a business system. The tension can arise from any number of factors: sales, competition, economic conditions, or

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On Target


 When you have a good business model and a great strategy, you should win – right? As seasoned investors (i.e., business owners) know, there is one more thing you need and one more thing you need to be able to do. The thing you need is deep understanding of where you can affect value. The

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The “No” You Already Have


 It has always amazed me how the simplest of questions are never answered – they “never go answered”. The reason, I have observed, is not that the questions are absurd, but mostly because the questions are never asked. We have all heard the old adage of “there is no such thing as a dumb question”.

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In The News: Steele Rubber Products


 Column: Business resource can be a huge help An article from the Hickory Record by Lindsay Keisler, Catawba County Chamber of Commerce HICKORY – “Your business. Better.” This is the tagline for the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), a state and federally funded business resource through the university system in North Carolina. They

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Recharge Performance


 Here are four avenues that your organization can travel to recharge performance. Externally, demonstrate to your customers and prospects how your organization adds value. Internally, focus on enhancing processes and systems that ensure value is routinely deliverable. Cut costs in areas that do not support your strategy. Reinvest savings in areas that do support the

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Confucius says… Pivot


 What do you think success looks like for your business? I mean real success! Does your definition of success keep changing? If you honestly want to be successful, you need clear goals and everyone around you needs to know what they are, so they can support you. In effect, goal statements pose the question: what

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 Like an airplane, the first task of a business is to get off the ground rapidly and at steep angle. Once in the air the job is to stay there; however, at this point the steep climbing angle begins to work against the business. As a midsize business, it is harder to grow revenue, hire

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A Recollection and Matthew


 Years ago, as part of a keynote address, I heard a prominent business leader make the comment, “in my professional life; my first loyalty is to my industry.” When asked about this comment later, the speaker pointed to many justifications which boiled down to this fact:  when an industry is well thought of, all of its

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