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In Business, Only Pick Fights You Can Win

Competition: In our case, the competitors are bigger, provide a better rate, have been in the field longer, and their mission is in sync with large buyers. My ego or blindness to the reality of the market put our business on the wrong path. A great middleweight can never beat a great heavyweight because size, strength, quickness and stamina matter.

Team depth: You have to ask yourself if your team has enough experience and depth of understanding to gain a buyer's trust.

Capital: Many businesses require a certain amount of capital investment by the supplier. You often read where a small contractor wins the bid on a project, but can't fulfill the project because it doesn't have the financial wherewithal.

Competitive advantage: Every business needs some type of competitive advantage. A friend of mine runs a health-care marketing firm, and his competitive advantage is that he is a former brand manager for a pharmaceutical company and has worked with many pharmaceutical and biotech companies over a number of years. His company has the skills to manage the marketing for a midsize company but not a multinational.

Don't waste time and energy going after prospects that put you at a significant price disadvantage before you get started. Great service only wins if price is equal or slightly off. Pick fights you can win, and your business will grow.

Marc Kramer, a serial entrepreneur, is the author of five books and is an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton's Global Consulting Practicum, where he serves as Country Manager for Chile.

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