Why It’s Sometimes Better To Be The Underdog

I don’t think you’d argue with the fact that month in and month out, we in the Recreational Products Industry have to deal with plenty of unfair and significant challenges. Sometimes, it seems to me that we’re kind of the underdogs to our cousins in similar industries. That’s a good thing according to renowned author Malcolm Gladwell, who claims it’s often better to be the underdog to achieve greater success.  Find out why.

When you think about the recreational products business you can’t ignore the many challenges it presents. 

  • First, the business is seasonal so your sales are going to experience soaring peaks and plunging valleys. 
  • Second, you’ve got to contend with Mother Nature and the effects weather or a late start to a season will have on sales. 
  • Third, most dealers have multiple manufacturers/suppliers, which negates your ability to get certain support functions, unlike our cousins in the auto industry.
  • Fourth, you have to contend with a less than an enthusiastic banking industry when it comes to generating capital loans and operating lines of credit. 

Finally, let’s not forget our wonderful government that makes it very difficult to succeed as a small business owner in this country. 

I could write a book on the challenges our government presents for entrepreneurs like you and I. Just look at the recent anti-spam legislation that went into effect July 2, 2014. 

Someone please explain to me how you and I, entrepreneurs trying to build our businesses, are supposed to communicate with our target market? The moment you do so through an electronic communication (like e-mail) you are in breach of the law. 

Nowadays, you have to get permission first. How do you get permission via e-mail to communicate with your prospects without being in default of the law?  No doubt many of you who send out marketing e-mails to your clients have lost a huge part of your mailing list because people were just too lazy to “opt in”  This legislation creates more work, hurts you and I, and doesn’t address the real spammers who are off shore and can’t be touched. Anyway, enough of my rant and back to Malcolm Gladwell.

Malcolm Gladwell has written a number of best selling books, one of which is titled “The Power Of The Underdog”.  It is his opinion that we over exaggerate the strength of the favourites and underestimate the power of the underdog.  He feels that limitations force the underdog to be more creative and think outside the box.  In other words, we are forced to try things that we would not otherwise think of.

In a recent rerun of a 60 Minutes interview, Gladwell discussed a number of examples of how his theory works.  One example he gave of the underdog succeeding, is the President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohen.  

Cohen has suffered from dyslexia all his life.  He had difficulty throughout his school years, failing grades and getting in trouble because teachers did not understand his impairment.  What he did learn, were ways to succeed that others wouldn’t think of. He became a very good listener and was willing to take chances, not typical of  CEO’s of big corporations. 

Gladwell also likes to reflect on the story of David and Goliath.  Obviously David was totally outmatched by Goliath but he kept his distance and used his sling shot to hit Goliath in the head and killed him with one shot. 

The point is, despite all the challenges that you and I face, you can be very successful in the Recreational Products Industry, if you’re willing to think outside the box and take calculated risks. 

Lifeline Business Solutions is all about thinking outside the box.  It is a well known fact that very few dealers do a comparative analysis to industry standards on their financial statements and just as important, most dealers don’t prepare a comprehensive business plan to guide them through the seasonality of their business each year. 

So, if you are feeling like an underdog, then feel good about it, embrace it, because it opens your mind to thinking outside the box. 

If you want to discuss what thinking outside the box could mean to your profits and your business, contact me for a free consultation.

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