How to Become an Industry Leader: 2 Bold Moves

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Your Next Five Moves" by Patrick Bet-David. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you know how to become an industry leader? What skills and actions are required for your company to come out on top?

The ultimate step in the journey toward enduring business success is to position yourself as an industry leader. This requires two bold moves: (1) take down your huge competitors and (2) become skilled in high-stakes negotiations. Patrick Bet-David discusses these steps in his book Your Next Five Moves.

Read more to learn how to take these two steps.

How to Become an Industry Leader

The last step of your strategy for sustained success is making the business moves that position you as an industry leader. According to Bet-David, there are two bold steps you can take. Let’s discuss each.

Bold Move #1: Take Down Behemoth Competitors in Your Industry

Though this is a risky move that’s not for every company, you can try to take on the behemoth competitor in your industry, writes Bet-David. This is possible because behemoths, once they’ve grown powerful and complacent, lose agility and the willingness to work hard and take risks.

(Shortform note: Another reason behemoth companies might lose agility is because they’ve fallen out of touch with the customer. Because they’ve been around a long time and have achieved sustained success, they might not be paying enough attention to changing customer needs and trends and can lose out to smaller, more customer-oriented companies.)

To learn how to become an industry leader, you first have to know how to take down a behemoth using the following tactics:

Tactic #1: Take Down the Behemoth Gradually

Take the behemoth down gradually by committing to incremental growth, insists Bet-David. While you quietly strengthen your company, the behemoth will be resting on its laurels, unaware of your progress. This complacency allows you to emerge as a surprise competitor and conquer. 

(Shortform note: Bet-David suggests that small companies grow incrementally to take down their large competitors, but he doesn’t specify what sort of growth companies should try to achieve. Small companies might grow competitively by committing to superior customer service. Their small size allows them to have more personal interactions with their customers, which boosts customer satisfaction and competitiveness.)

Tactic #2: Tell Your Story Effectively

When you take on the behemoth, you’ll be prone to unflattering media coverage and slander because you’re doing something bold, warns Bet-David. To counter negative rumors, share your story through social media, as this is a direct path from you to followers. When doing this, be honest, vulnerable, and consistent: Reveal mistakes you’ve made, solicit input from followers, and share content on a regular basis, so followers know when to expect it. 

(Shortform note: To tell your story effectively, consider using a time-tested storytelling formula, as Donald Miller proposes in Building a StoryBrand. Miller’s storytelling formula is specifically designed for marketing efforts, but it can also be applied to tell the company’s narrative. In the formula, you first describe your company’s desire, then the problem hindering you from achieving the desire, and finally how you followed a plan to avoid disaster and find success.)

Bold Move #2: Negotiate for Sustained Success

According to Bet-David, to become an industry leader, you’ll need to become comfortable negotiating high-stakes deals with partners, vendors, and competitors.

(Shortform note: Bet-David argues that negotiation skills are critical for high-powered business leaders, but in Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury propose that all employees, no matter how high on the totem pole, must increasingly negotiate in the workplace. This is because companies have begun adopting more democratic and less hierarchical structures, wherein employees have more say over, for instance, where and what hours they work.)

Here are three methods for negotiating in a way that sustains long-term success:

Method 1: Prepare Extensively for Meetings

Before you enter a high-stakes meeting, prepare extensively by thinking about the other person’s expectations and needs, what they want to express to you, and how you’ll respond, insists Bet-David. When you’re prepared, you process negotiations more effectively in real time and avoid brash, deal-ending decisions or outbursts.

(Shortform note: While Bet-David insists on extensive preparation before a meeting, others warn of the danger of over-preparation. Over-preparing can be symptomatic of a fear of failure and can lead you to deliver a poor performance because you’re not fully present. Some even argue that to best tackle a new situation or negotiation, you shouldn’t prepare at all.

Method 2: Be Firmly Convinced of the Value of Your Product and Your Position

To negotiate effectively, believe firmly in your product and the value it will add to the customer’s life, stresses Bet-David. Similarly, when making deals, know confidently what you want and what you can offer, and be ready to follow through on your claims, writes Bet-David. This allows you to act boldly and make deals that greatly expand your opportunities. 

(Shortform note: Bet-David recommends having firm conviction in your product and position, but it’s easy to lose that conviction in high-pressure negotiations. If this happens, you might try a power pose: a stance in which you make yourself big by putting your hands on your hips or above your head. Though there’s debate as to whether this tactic increases testosterone and decreases stress hormones, as researchers initially claimed, power posing still might simply make you feel more confident.)

Method 3: Develop Negotiating Power by Seeking Many Options

Ensure you get the best deal by having alternate deal options, Bet-David advises. Having options means you don’t desperately need any one deal and are therefore in a more powerful negotiating position. To secure many options, always be looking for new clients, opportunities, and business partners. This ensures you’re never dependent on a single relationship.

(Shortform note: While Bet-David advises you to actively seek out alternative options to gain negotiating power, Roger Fisher and William Ury argue that to succeed in a negotiation, all you have to do is know what your “BATNA” is. A “BATNA” is your single best alternative to the ideal outcome of your negotiation. For example, if you’re negotiating terms with a distributor for your product, your BATNA would be the next biggest distributor willing to make a deal with you. If you know your BATNA before negotiating, you can confidently refuse any deal that would benefit you less than your best alternative.)

How to Become an Industry Leader: 2 Bold Moves

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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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