Don't underestimate your competition
Since you are leading your business from day to day you know that there is no such thing as weak competition. Every other company must be considered as extremely dangerous and be treated that way. Is the previous sentence too radical and paranoid? Yes, it is, but it should be said from time to time because the real dangers lies at the other end of the rope.
It is easy to underestimate your competition and to lose a significant part of the market. After that, from glory to history is just one step.
We can underestimate our competition in many ways but the two of them are very dangerous. Firstly, we maybe don't know a particular company so well as we think we do. Take for an example Apple. Everyone knew that Apple Computers is basically a hardware company which creates great computers. But no one saw iPod coming. Apple had a long history of great Macs with legendary user interfaces and operating systems, but no one thought that Steve Jobs will make an MP3 player.
There were some signs and rumours, but no hard evidence. If some other company had a knowledge or information about that, maybe today we'd have some other iPod from other company. And I don't mean here that we must use the industrial espionage, just that we must try to learn what the competition is doing.
Secondly, we can fall in sleep. Working day after day it is easy to start thinking that we are the best in the Universe. We look at the same product for weeks and months, we know all its features and step by step we are close to thinking that we have the best thing human kind can make. OK, I'm exaggerating, but it's easy to fall in love with your own products. From there to thinking that every other products is bad it's a small step. And when you cross that line and allow yourself such thinking you are history.
So, don't be paranoid and don't look over your shoulder but ask yourself from time to time: "Am I the best in the Universe?" It the answer is yes every time, you have a problem. ■