Let’s Talk About the (Business) Climate

by: Doug Michaelides

The recent wonderful weather in Ottawa (20 degrees C in March!) got me thinking about the climate. If you’re like me, your enjoyment of these warm, sunny early Spring days is tinged by concern over whether this is just good fortune or a result of climate change. The thought that what appears to be good news may really be bad news in disguise, casts a bit of a dark cloud over the glorious weather.

There’s a parallel with business. Many companies are enjoying improved financial results lately. They’d like to think it is the reward for fiscal prudence, hard work and superior customer value. The question, however, is whether this improved performance is simply the result of an improving economy. Sure, we’ll take the gains when they come; but isn’t the real issue how you are doing relative to your competitors? Are you gaining market share? Do you earn superior product and operating margin?

Mixing my metaphors, they say that “a rising tide floats all boats”. In the case of your business, make sure that rising performance levels aren’t simply due to global economic warming. It is time to invest in gaining competitive advantage. After all, the objective isn’t just to stay afloat; it is to win the regatta.  Or, in the words of Warren Buffet, “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out”.

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