Southwest Airlines Co., Amazon.com., McDonald's Corp.
No matter a company's market, it comes down to basic survival skills to compete in today's business environment, according to Michael Janke, a former U.S. Navy SEAL commando who now operates Special Operations Consulting in Santa Fe, N.M.
Those corporations have differentiated themselves in the marketplace, finding what Janke calls the ``know zone.'' That uniqueness is critical to survival, Janke told a crowd of 1,000 at the Remodelers' Show, held Oct. 23-25 in Baltimore.
``They dictate what happens in their environment,'' Janke said in the keynote address. ``They dominate by doing a few things really well.''
The mind-set change is especially important in the current climate, where businesses are battling in consumer warfare. Janke sees the business world as a ``great human food chain,'' where 80 percent are prey, 15 percent are opportunists and 5 percent are predators.
The 5 percent dictates and dominates the market through self-discipline and focus.
``Quality, accessibility and pricing just get you into the playing field,'' he said. ``The 5 percent predators in this room do so because they don't hesitate and they have a plan. How are you different? How you win this war is by differentiating. When you differentiate, you attack. When you innovate, you set the scale off balance.''
For Southwest Airlines, it means having no first class and no assigned seats, which shortens the time each plane sits at the gate. For McDonald's, it was the forethought to create a Happy Meal.
``Southwest Airlines makes it simple and cheap,'' Janke said. ``They get my money. They are dominating. What's your Happy Meal? What makes you different? It's about leading from the front.''
American society breeds the sheepherder mentality, Janke said, the mind-set of ``Go along, get along and don't rock the boat.'' Moreover, American society is plagued with the idea of ``instant'' success, such as with a 25-year-old who can become a dot-com millionaire.
Businesses have to be willing to pull the trigger by taking chances. Companies need to minimize distractions and focus on what they can control. Also, companies and business owners should not hesitate to toot their own horns.
``The predators are the ones with forethought,'' he said. ``They're more mature in decision-making, but they decide fast. There's a fine line in business and life with being too aggressive and not having enough aggression. Predators have calm aggressiveness about the way they do business.''