When You Finally Matter

Back in the mid-1990s I started working for a smallish alcoholic beverage company. While it had some popular local and regional brands, it was known more for creating or importing cheap alternatives to popular products. As management began to turnover with new leaders in place and with some young talent already in place, the organization gained focus, developed profitable brands, built its portfolio through innovation and acquisition and, in recent years, became a strong player in the industry.

In a span of almost 12 years, they went from an also-ran to a company that matters, that actually means something, to customers, vendors, other companies and talent wanting to join the organization. It came from strong leadership, hard work and dedication.

Now they face another challenge: making decisions from a decidedly different point of view. When people and other companies don’t take you seriously, it’s easier to take some risks. For them, 10 years ago, there wasn’t much to lose. They could take some chances, set aside other parts of the business and focus on making something, anything, profitable enough to support what they wanted to do. They’ve done that.

The other parts that were once set aside then had to take center stage and undergo needed scrutiny. That led to another fundamental and calculated change, setting them on yet another, vastly different course. They soon will be twice as strong as they were even 5 years ago. And when that time comes, their decision-making again will come from another point of view.

They don’t have to take the same risks. In fact, they shouldn’t since there is more to lose. They spend their time evaluating opportunities for growth, not shedding dead weight. They are increasing their focus on controlling their own destiny with the right portfolio of products, smart distribution relationships and solid marketing.

This is a prime example of how an organization should evolve over time.

Here are some lessons learned from a company that finally matters:

  • Focus on the things you can control
  • Create value in your brands
  • Leverage your value to create even more value
  • Cut underperforming brands and products
  • Pay close attention to the financials
  • Invest wisely in areas that will generate a positive return
  • Give brands and products any needed facelifts
  • Take care of your employees and reward them for individual and team successes
  • Attract and retain talent, not warm bodies
  • Always seek ways to be more efficient and cost effective without sacrificing quality

Take a close look at your own performance. Where are your opportunities for improvement?

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