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7 Ways Your Company Can Be More Like Amazon

As we transition into Quarter 3 of 2017, companies are already planning for what 2018 is going to look like. Over the past year, we have seen a lot of change in the business landscape. Amazon acquired Whole Foods and dramatically sliced prices. Apple released not just one, but two iPhones in the past month. President Trump took office at the beginning of the year. Great Britain voted to Brexit from the European Union. Alfred Angelo, a bridal store giant, filed for bankruptcy. There has been innovation, disruption, uncertainty, destruction, and so much more in the business landscape. One thing that we do know for 2018 is that to survive, you must be innovative. Fast Company has already named Amazon to be the most innovative company in 2017, so let’s learn how your company can be more like Amazon.

7 Ways Your Company Can Be More Like Amazon

Amazon has impacted how businesses must compete in today’s world. Instead of just competing in one market, Amazon now competes against retailers, grocery stores, logistics, technology providers (Apple, Google), and many more industries and markets. After researching how they have grown, especially over the past 5 years, we have created a list of 7 ways your company can be more like Amazon.

1. Experiment

NASA has been around for 59 years. In that time, they went through ample amounts of experiments to get people into space… They tested every aspect of the shuttle, the gear, the computers, the communication, etc. While there were thousands of failures, they were the first to walk on the moon. Likewise, Amazon has used the same theory to experiment in many different fields. Ever heard of Amazon Webstore, Amazon Destinations, WebPay, Askville, and Amazon Auction? These are just a few examples of products that Amazon either shut down completely or morphed them into a product more successful.

Obviously, you may not have the same cash flow as Amazon does. But that doesn’t mean you do not have the capabilities to conduct an experiment. The most important part of experimenting plenty is to change your perspective to innovate. Start by testing variations of your product through A/B testing. Then test everything! Your product, your processes, your departments, your services, your customers, your placement. Everything. Continue to test until you are pleased with the outcome, then test some more. As technology advances and society changes, things will change more rapidly than ever before. These experiments should never stop.

Amazon’s Advice About Experimenting

In Amazon’s 2015 Letter to the Shareholders, Jeff Bezos discuses this concept on experimenting frequently.

Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there. Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten.

We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.

If you are looking to start experimenting, you need to know what external factors could impact the success of your experiment. Download our External Analysis whitepaper to learn more.

2. Expect to Fail

When you begin to experiment, you can expect to fail more than you succeed. Once your company has created a culture of encouraging failure, innovation will begin to happen. Thomas Edison, one of America’s greatest inventors and businessmen, once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Your company can be like Amazon if the leadership encourages each employee to fail. Although that sounds counterintuitive, this aspect has resulted in Amazon’s massive growth.

As the financial leader of your company, structure the company’s ability to fail. Because you need to protect the financial future, put in some guidelines for each experiment. Check that they are going to improve something that will move the needle. You don’t want your employees to be experimenting on senseless things – wasting both time and resources.

3. Innovate Everything

If your company wants to be more like Amazon, you should innovate everything in your company. Ask even the lowest employee why you do things a certain way. If your team responds, “that’s just the way we’ve always done it,” it is time to innovate. There must be a reason for everything you do, and if there isn’t, then you either need to cut that process out or innovate it.

Check out Amazon’s product listing that can be found at the bottom of their website. Notice how they cater to various customers, needs, and desires. From cloud storage to groceries to comics to videos and movies to publishing, every customer can find at least one product that they can use. When we say to innovate everything, we mean everything. Amazon is continually updating, improving and innovating their systems and products to better serve… Their customers!

your company can be more like amazon

Now, providing various products does not necessarily work for every company – and it shouldn’t. But Amazon has made the web their playground and has innovated everything related to the web. Find your playground and start innovating.

4. Be Customer Centric

One thing that has set apart Amazon from the rest is their customer centric, customer obsessed culture. In a Forbes interview with John Rossman, a previous executive at Amazon, he said that “there are 14 leadership principles at Amazon. They weren’t written down, they weren’t codified when I was there, but you saw them being used every day. The first one is ‘Obsess over the customer,’ and the 14th is ‘Deliver results,’ and there’s 12 in between those two.” To get results, you must start with the customer. A business can have all the best processes, accounting, logistics, etc., but if your company does not have a customer, it doesn’t exist.

Refocus every employee on the customer. What do they want? How quickly can you get what they want to them? What does your customer need? How can we better serve our customer? What needs do they not know aren’t being met? Every decision made in the company should be directed towards the customer. You company can be more like Amazon if you are customer centric. Jeff Bezos once said, “Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient.”

5. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Change for some can be uncomfortable. Even those that thrive on that adrenaline pumping adventure, some change can feel like walking on a tight rope across a canyon. Get out of your comfort zone when you are innovating. Just because you are in the financial leg of your company doesn’t mean you need to stay there all the time. For a company to be effective, every employee needs to be involved in every aspect of your company. For example, you should be concerned how marketing is spending their budget. Marketing, likewise, should be wary of how their decisions impact the bottom line.

6. Base Strategy on Reliable Facts

Your company can be more like Amazon if you base your strategy on reliable facts. While this seems like a simple task, many companies base their strategy on what they want to outcome to be… Not on fact.  At re:Invent 2012, Jeff Bezos elaborated on why you need to base strategy on reliable facts.

“I very frequently get the question: ‘what’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘what’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two – because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time….in our retail business, we know that customers want low prices and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery, they want vast selection.

It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon, I just wish the prices were a little higher [or] I love Amazon, I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible [to imagine that future]… When you have something that you know is true, even over the long-term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.

For your company to be successful, you need to start identifying what is going to be true ten years from now. They are going to want a better product or service. Your customers want to get that for a lower price. And they want value.  Once you write down the facts, you can strategize your company’s next move.

7. Remove Any Risks

Obviously, we are not going to recommend that you innovate or experiment without having thought it through. In fact, you need to prepare before you begin the experiment. Remove any known risks associated with that experiment and be aware of any potential risks that could come about. Create an External Analysis to overcome any obstacles that come your way and be prepared to react to those external factors. Although you may not be able to prevent those obstacles from occurring, you can prepare how you are going to react to them. Download our free External Analysis whitepaper to gear up your business for change and your company can be more like Amazon.

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The Key to Having a Unique Business? Unique People!

Over the years of teaching in an entrepreneurship program, I realized a pattern. As expected, every entrepreneur thinks his business is unique. But in having a unique business, who works for you? What value do they bring to the table? Do they make your business “unique”? To some extent, they probably do! These are questions we will explore, but for now, let’s talk about what really makes a business unique.

Is your business really unique?

Every business or inhaving a unique businessdustry has nuances that are peculiar to that market. But is it necessary to restrict your hiring to employees with industry experience?

Business is business is business. Yes it’s different, but you don’t want to make decisions based on pride and skills you don’t have. They don’t make MBAs for each industry, after all. If all businesses were unique, they would make specific MBAs per skill per industry. That’s the beauty of the hiring process… seeing who has the talents and skills, and who doesn’t.

A few tips on having a unique business…

1. DiversifyEver thought about pivoting? Or changing your business model? When we say “diversify”, we really mean looking for something in your company that can be improved. How can you best optimize the assets you already have?

2. Innovate. This includes solving new problems, creating a new product, finding new business partners, and many other factors that go into making new plans for your business. But be careful not to introduce too many things at one time!

3. Hire unique people! Who else is going to implement these changes? Building a better team will help solve new problems that your company might not have seen before. You just have decide from there… will you hire based on degree or drive?

How do you build that unique team? Download our free whitepaper to learn how to recruit the perfect team for your business!

Degree vs. Drive

The term “degree” in this blog is a loose term. It generally means the typical employee who has gone to college, and worked 5-10 years in a job to acquire skills. If you think about it, who knows the nuances of the business better than anybody? It is the entrepreneur and his core team!

In the Strategic CFO, we work primarily with established companies rather than solely start-up companies. Although we don’t always work directly with the entrepreneur, we still see the patterns of pride within the company. Pride, in this context, means more than believing your company is the best and undeniably different than any other company.

Recently, I visited a client that wanted to recruit a CFO. They told me they wanted to hire someone with “industry experience.” How would you interpret this? “Industry experience” can mean one of two things: 1) years of experience in any given industry, 2) knowledge of the industry, or 3) both. Notice that I never mentioned talent or drive in this analysis.

Hiring for Degree

Advantages

having a unique businessNow don’t get me wrong, hiring for experience has its perks. Those with experience are familiar with the industry jargon, and understand the processes. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to train them for longer than a few weeks! Having a more tenured employee also appeals to customers and other partners, because not everyone trusts a young, fresh new hire.

Disadvantages

Experience is often short-sided. If hiring for experience was the main criteria for hiring new graduates, then there might be a lot of holes in the skill set of your company. Take the MBA, for example. You hire this person based on experience and their years of study in the industry. But what if there was a new skill set that not a lot of people have studied in? You’ll be paying a lot more to receive a lot less. Experienced employees tend to go by the book, and generally don’t go outside of what they know. After a while, tenured employees are less innovative, which is an essential part of diversifying your business and solving new problems.

Hiring for Drive

Advantages

Harvard says, “hire for talent, train for skills.” When you have someone that’s talented, you can get that person up to speed in any industry. For example, the marketing specialists in the Strategic CFO staff weren’t always tech-savvy when I first hired them. However, I chose them from a pool of talented people with drive. Within months, they became digital marketing specialists. People with drive are also innovative. They won’t stop until they’ve finished a project or solved a problem. Finally, they’re affordable. If you think about it, they’re usually young hires. Young hires are cheap!

Disadvantages

Although young hires are cheap, they might take longer to train and familiarize with industry jargon. Additionally, you can’t always send millennials out on cold calls or familiarize them with regular clients.

“Teaching tall:” more on hiring for talent

In my opinion, I think hiring for talent is more valuable than hiring for experience. It’s an investment. John Wooden, the famous head basketball coach at UCLA and creator of the “Pyramid for Success,” had this saying… “I can teach anybody how to play basketball. I can’t teach tall.” Basketball players are known to be tall, muscular, and fast. John Wooden showed us that anyone can do something if they have the drive for it. The same can be applied to business and building your company.

Conclusion

So we explored the idea of having a unique business by having a unique team, what other things you can do to make your company unique, and the advantages/disadvantages of hiring for degree and drive. The key to having a unique business: hiring unique people! You can accomplish anything for your business if you have the right resources and make productive decisions. You can get there, it’s just a matter of how soon you and your team are willing to do it. Your business can be unique… and you definitely can’t do it alone.

Don’t do it alone. Download our free 5 Guiding Principles for Recruiting a Star-Quality team today!

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Timing of Hiring Interns

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What is the timing of hiring interns for the summer? How soon should a company start looking for summer intern help?

Timing of Hiring Interns

Just yestersday I recieved a call from a business associate who was making introductions for his daughter for an intership this summer. All he was doing was opening doors. He expected her to follow up. It started me to thinking about next summer’s interships for our company.

Now keep in mind we have been hiring summer interns for the past six years. Some have been outstanding and others have been just good. The difference has been how early in the process did we start recruiting. It seems that the best candidates for a summer intership get hired by April, May at the latest. That doesn’t mean that a good candidate doesn’t come rolling in at the last minute. There just aren’t as many talented interns looking by June.

I am always impressed by effort and initiative. The interns who hustled and started the process early often were the hardest working interns. We look for a work ethic and initiative more so than smarts. Attitude goes a long way!

The phone call yesterday started me to thinking about our summer interns. We need to start scoping the projects we want to accomplish this summer. By planning our goals for the intern we can target the talent we want to recruit. It also gives us a screen process when hiring that summer intern.

Last year our goal was to rewrite our wiki’s for our website. We ended up hiring three interns from University of Houston’s Wolffe Center for Entrepreneurship. We recieved quotes to move the articles from an old site to our new one. The interns were able to do the same project for half the cost. Given time they could solve any obstacle. We were impressed!

Over the next few months we are going to set our goals for this summer and spread the word for the talent we are looking when hiring this next summer’s interns. You should start too. The timing of hiring interns is now!

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Threat of New Entrants (one of Porter’s Five Forces)

See also:
Porter’s Five Forces of Competition
Supplier Power
Buyer Bargaining Power
Threat of Substitutes
Intensity of Rivalry
Complementors (Sixth Force)

Threat of New Entrants Definition

In Porters five forces, threat of new entrants refers to the threat new competitors pose to existing competitors in an industry. Therefore, a profitable industry will attract more competitors looking to achieve profits. If it is easy for these new entrants to enter the market – if entry barriers are low – then this poses a threat to the firms already competing in that market. More competition – or increased production capacity without concurrent increase in consumer demand – means less profit to go around. According to Porter’s 5 forces, threat of new entrants is one of the forces that shape the competitive structure of an industry. Thus, Porters threat of new entrants definition revolutionized the way people look at competition in an industry.

Threat of New Entrants Explanation

The threat of new entrants Porter created affects the competitive environment for the existing competitors and influences the ability of existing firms to achieve profitability. For example, a high threat of entry means new competitors are likely to be attracted to the profits of the industry and can enter the industry with ease. New competitors entering the marketplace can either threaten or decrease the market share and profitability of existing competitors and may result in changes to existing product quality or price levels. An example of the threat of new entrants porter devised exists in the graphic design industry: there are very low barriers to entry.

As new competitors flood the marketplace, have a plan to react before it impacts your business. Download the External Analysis whitepaper to gain an advantage over competitors by overcoming obstacles and preparing to react to external forces, such as it being a buyer’s market. 

A high threat of new entrance can both make an industry more competitive and decrease profit potential for existing competitors. On the other hand, a low threat of entry makes an industry less competitive and increases profit potential for the existing firms. New entrants are deterred by barriers to entry.

Barriers to Entry

Several factors determine the degree of the threat of new entrants to an industry. Furthermore, many of these factors fall into the category of barriers to entry, or entry barriers. Barriers to entry are factors or conditions in the competitive environment of an industry that make it difficult for new businesses to begin operating in that market.

Examples of Barriers to Entry

A high production-profitability threshold requirement, or economy of scale, is an entry barrier that can lower the threat of entry. Highly differentiated products or well-known brand names are both barriers to entry that can lower the threat of new entrants. Significant upfront capital investments required to start a business can lower the threat of new entrants. Whereas, high consumer switching costs are a barrier to entry. When access to distribution channels is an entry barrier – if it is difficult to gain access to these channels, the threat of entry is low. Access to favorable locations, proprietary technology, or proprietary production material inputs also increase entry barriers and decrease the threat of entry.

And of course, if the opposite is true for any of these factors, barriers to entry are low and the threat of new entrants is high. For example, no required economies of scale, standardized or commoditized products, low initial capital investment requirements, low consumer switching costs, easy access to distribution channels, and no relevant advantages due to locale or proprietary assets all indicate that entry barriers are low and the threat of entry is high.

Other factors also influence the threat of new entrants. Expected retaliation of existing competitors and the existence of relevant government subsidies or policies can discourage new entrants. While no expected retaliation and the lack of relevant government subsidies or polices can encourage new entrants.

Threat of Entry Analysis

When analyzing a given industry, all of the aforementioned factors regarding the threat of new entrants may not apply. But some, if not many, certainly will. Of the factors that do apply, some may indicate a high threat of entry and some may indicate a low threat of entry. But, the results will not always be straightforward. Therefore it is necessary to consider the nuances of the analysis and the particular circumstances of the given firm and industry when using these data to evaluate the competitive structure and profit potential of a market.

High Threat of Entry of New Competitors When:

  • Profitability does not require economies of scale
  • Products are undifferentiated
  • Brand names are not well-known
  • Initial capital investment is low
  • Consumer switching costs are low
  • Accessing distribution channels is easy
  • Location is not an issue
  • Proprietary technology is not an issue
  • Proprietary materials is not an issue
  • Government policy is not an issue
  • Expected retaliation of existing firms is not an issue

Threat of New Entry is Low if:

  • Profitability requires economies of scale
  • Products are differentiated
  • Brand names are well-known
  • Initial capital investment is high
  • Consumer switching costs are high
  • Accessing distribution channels is difficult
  • Location is an issue
  • Proprietary technology is an issue
  • Proprietary materials is an issue
  • Government policy is an issue
  • Expected retaliation of existing firms is an issue

Threat of New Entry of competitors Interpretation

When conducting Porter’s 5 forces industry analysis, a low threat of new entrants makes an industry more attractive and increases profit potential for the firms already competing within that industry, while a high threat of new entrants makes an industry less attractive and decreases profit potential for the firms already competing within that industry. The threat of new entrants porter’s 5 forces explained is one of the factors to consider when analyzing the structural environment of an industry. To continue to expand your analysis, download the free External Analysis whitepaper by clicking here .

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Strategic Planning Process

See Also:
Product Pricing Strategies
Marketing Mix (4 P’s of Marketing)
Business Plan
How to write an Action Plan
Value Chain

Strategic Planning Process Definition

The strategic planning process involves finding long-term goals, and running through the different steps of the process to achieve those goals. Strategy planning involves finding where the company excels as well as where to allocate resources to maximize the long-term potential or strategy of the company.

Strategic Planning Process Steps

The strategic planning process outline or steps is as follows:

Mission

The mission step for the strategic process involves the creation of a mission statement. This is a big step in that it defines where the company plans on going into the future.

Objectives

After a mission statement has been made, strategy analysis requires that long-term and short-term objectives need to be established. There needs to be a way of monitoring the objectives so that the company has a way to check up on the progress of the company. Monitoring also makes sure it is on the right track to fulfill its mission statement.

Situation Analysis

Once the objectives have been established the strategic process requires that the company begin performing information gathering. Not only does the company need to establish where it is, but it also needs to gather information on its competitors as well as the current economic environment.

Strategy

Once information is gathered for the company on itself and the environment, then the company can begin to establish an overall strategy. The strategy will first incorporate the overall mission statement, objectives, as well as the general environment. Once these have been considered the company needs to decide what it does best in order to maximize the potential of the company.

Plan Execution

After all of the strategy planning is done, a company will gain the financing needed. Then they will begin marketing. They will also be establishing all human and equipment capital needed to best fit the company with the overall strategy.

Controlling Process

As the company moves along towards its objectives and overall mission statement it should establish a monitoring system. In this way the company can regularly check its progress and make sure it is on track to meet all of the goals of the company. If the company is not on track, then it can make adjustments that will put it back on track. To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

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Porter’s Five Forces of Competition

See also:
SWOT Analysis
Threat of New Entrants
Supplier Power
Buyer Bargaining Power
Threat of Substitutes
Intensity of Rivalry
Complementors (Sixth Force)
Marketing Mix (4 P’s of Marketing)

Porter’s Five Forces of Competition Definition

Porter’s 5 forces framework is used for strategic industry analysis. It was developed in 1979 by Michael Porter, Harvard Business School professor. Michael Porter’s five forces of competition can be used to examine and analyze the competitive structure of an industry by looking at 5 forces of competition that influence and shape profit potential. Furthermore, Porter’s five forces of competition have become a central concept to business theory.

Porter’s 5 forces industry analysis does more than look at a company’s direct competitors. It looks at multiple aspects of the industry’s competitive structure and economic environment, which includes the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers, the threat of new entrants, and the threat of substitute products. The idea is to look at each of these factors and determine the degree to which they increase competition in the industry. If the forces are strong, then they increase competition. Whereas if the forces are weak, then they decrease competition. Porter’s five forces definition can be utilized by any business. In addition, it can be applied to any industry.

Download the External Analysis whitepaper to gain an advantage over competitors by overcoming obstacles and preparing to react to external forces, such as it being a buyer’s market.

Environment of Industry

The competitive environment of an industry has a strong influence on the performance of businesses within that industry. Porter’s five forces defined whether an industry is attractive or unattractive from the perspective of a company competing in that industry. Porter’s 5 forces of competition provide an excellent method to consider an industry before entrance.

An attractive industry is one which offers the potential for profitability. If a company uses Porter’s 5 forces industry analysis and concludes that the competitive structure of the industry is such that there is an opportunity for high profits, then the company can elect to enter that industry or market. Or, if the company is already competing in that industry or market, then it can use the competitive forces Porter created to determine its optimal position within the marketplace.

An unattractive industry is one which does not offer the potential for profitability. If a company uses the five forces Porter created and concludes that the competitive forces in the industry are too strong or unfavorable, then that company may choose not to enter that industry or market. Or, if the company is already competing in that industry or market, then it can use Porter’s 5 forces model to find the best possible strategic placement in it.

5 Forces of Competition

Michael Porter’s 5 competitive forces:

  1. Threat of new entrants
  2. Bargaining power of suppliers
  3. Bargaining power of buyers
  4. Threat of substitute products
  5. Intensity of rivalry among competitors

Sixth Force

Sometimes a sixth force is added to the competitive forces Porter conceptualized. The model is called Porter’s Six Forces. The sixth force of competition is:

6. Complementors

As you’re evaluating your competition using Porter’s five forces of competition, don’t skip evaluating all external factors that can impact and potentially destroy your company. Download the External Analysis whitepaper to learn how to start.

Porter’s Five Forces Example

Analyzing Porter’s five forces example does not always yield a simple or straightforward evaluation of the attractiveness and profitability of an industry. Some of the forces may be strong, increasing competition and decreasing profit potential, while other forces may be weak, decreasing competition and increasing profit potential. The results may be conflicting and the interpretation depends on the particular business and the particular industry. However, for the sake of simplicity, there is an overall attractive industry structure and an overall unattractive industry structure. Porter’s five forces model is merely a framework.

According to Michael Porter’s five competitive forces industry analysis, an attractive industry has the following characteristics. The threat of new entrants is low. The bargaining power of suppliers is weak. Then the bargaining power of buyers is weak. The threat of substitute products is low. Finally, the intensity of rivalry among industry competitors is low. Complementary products or services are unavailable. If Porter’s forces of competition are as described above, then the industry is attractive and there is profit potential.

According to Porter’s 5 forces of competition, an unattractive industry has the following characteristics. The threat of new entrants is high. Then the bargaining power of suppliers is strong. The bargaining power of buyers is strong. The threat of substitute products is high. Finally, the intensity of rivalry among industry competitors is high. Complementary products or services are unavailable. If the forces of competition are as described above, then the industry is unattractive and there is limited profit potential.

Porter’s Analysis – Attractive Industry

The following indicates an attractive industry:

  • Threat of entrants is low
  • Threat of substitute products is low
  • Bargaining power of buyers is low/weak
  • Bargaining power of suppliers is low/weak
  • Intensity of rivalry among existing firms is low

Porter’s Analysis – Unattractive Industry

The following indicates an unattractive industry:

  • Threat of entrants is high
  • Threat of substitute products is high
  • Bargaining power of buyers is high/strong
  • Bargaining power of suppliers is high/strong
  • Intensity of rivalry among existing firms is high

Porter’s 5 Forces Strengths

The 5 forces of competition is a strong tool for conducting an in-depth analysis of the competitive structure of an industry. Furthermore, Porter’s 5 forces model can be used to complement a SWOT analysis. In addition, the 5 forces framework is useful in strategic planning and can help a company determine whether or not to enter an industry or market by evaluating the potential for profitability.

Porter’s 5 Forces Weaknesses

Porter’s 5 forces of competition have a few weaknesses and limitations. First, the model underestimates the influence of a company’s core competencies on its ability to achieve profit. It, instead, assumes the industry structure is the sole determining factor. Then Porter’s 5 forces definition is difficult to apply to large multinational corporations with synergies and interdependencies achieved from a portfolio of businesses. Additionally, the five forces framework assumes there is no collusion in the industry. Finally, Porter’s analysis doesn’t consider the possibility of creating a new market.

As you use Porter’s five forces of competition to shape profit potential, it’s important to expand analysis by evaluating the entire external environment. Download the free External Analysis whitepaper to overcome obstacles and be prepared to react to external forces..

Porter's Five Forces of Competition

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13

Intensity of Rivalry (one of Porter’s Five Forces)

See also:
Porter’s Five Forces of Competition
Threat of New Entrants
Supplier Power
Buyer Bargaining Power
Threat of Substitutes
Complementors (Sixth Force)

Porter’s Intensity of Rivalry Definition

The intensity of rivalry among competitors in an industry refers to the extent to which firms within an industry put pressure on one another and limit each other’s profit potential. If rivalry is fierce, then competitors are trying to steal profit and market share from one another. As a result, this reduces profit potential for all firms within the industry. According to Porter’s 5 forces framework, the intensity of rivalry among firms is one of the main forces that shape the competitive structure of an industry.

Porter’s intensity of rivalry in an industry affects the competitive environment and influences the ability of existing firms to achieve profitability. For example, high intensity of rivalry means competitors are aggressively targeting each other’s markets and aggressively pricing products. This represents potential costs to all competitors within the industry.

High intensity of competitive rivalry can make an industry more competitive and decrease profit potential for the existing firms. On the other hand, low intensity of competitive rivalry makes an industry less competitive and increases profit potential for the existing firms.

Conducting an competitor analysis can be overwhelming and confusing. Download the External Analysis whitepaper to gain an advantage over competitors by overcoming obstacles and preparing to react to external forces. 

Porter’s Intensity of Rivalry Determining Factors

Several factors determine the intensity of competitive rivalry in an industry.

Porter’s Rivalry Intensity Increased

If the industry consists of numerous competitors, then Porter rivalry will be more intense. Whereas if the competitors are of equal size or market share, the intensity of rivalry will increase. The intensity of rivalry will be high if industry growth is slow. If the industry’s fixed costs are high, then competitive rivalry will be intense. Additionally, rivalry will be intense if the industry’s products are undifferentiated or are commodities. If brand loyalty is insignificant and consumer switching costs are low, then this will intensify industry rivalry. Industry rivalry will be intense if competitors are strategically diverse – which means that they position themselves differently from other competitors. Then an industry with excess production capacity will have greater rivalry among competitors. And finally, high exit barriers – costs or losses incurred as a result of ceasing operations – will cause intensity of rivalry among industry firms to increase.

Porter’s Rivalry Intensity Decreased

And of course, if the opposite is true for any of these factors, the intensity of Porter rivalry among competitors will be low. For example, the following indicates that the Porter intensity of rivalry among existing firms is low:

  • A small number of firms in the industry
  • A clear market leader
  • Fast industry growth
  • Low fixed costs
  • Highly differentiated products
  • Prevalent brand loyalties
  • High consumer switching costs
  • No excess production capacity
  • Lack of strategic diversity among competitors
  • Low exit barriers

Porter’s Intensity of Rivalry Analysis

When analyzing a given industry, all of the aforementioned factors regarding the intensity of competitive rivalry Porter placed among existing competitors may not apply. But some, if not many, certainly will. And of the factors that do apply, some may indicate high intensity of rivalry and some may indicate low intensity of rivalry. The results will not always be straightforward. Therefore it is necessary to consider the nuances of the analysis and the particular circumstances of the given firm and industry when using these data to evaluate the competitive structure and profit potential of a market.

Intensity of Rivalry is High if…

If any of the following occurs, then intensity of rivalry is high.

• Competitors are numerous

• Industry growth is slow

Fixed costs are high

• Competitors have equal size

• Products are undifferentiated

• Brand loyalty is insignificant

• Consumer switching costs are low

• Competitors have equal market share

• Competitors are strategically diverse

• There is excess production capacity

• Exit barriers are high

Intensity of Rivalry is Low if…

If any of the following occurs, then it may indicate that the intensity of rivalry is low.

• Competitors are few

• Unequal size among competitors

• Competitors have unequal market share

• Industry growth is fast

• Fixed costs are low

• Products are differentiated

• Brand loyalty is significant

• Consumer switching costs are high

• Competitors are not strategically diverse

• There is no excess production capacity

• Exit barriers are low

Porter’s Intensity of Rivalry Interpretation

When conducting Porter’s 5 forces industry analysis, low intensity of rivalry makes an industry more attractive and increases profit potential for the firms already competing within that industry, while high intensity of rivalry makes an industry less attractive and decreases profit potential for the firms already competing within that industry. The intensity of rivalry among existing firms is one of the factors to consider when analyzing the structural environment of an industry using Porter’s 5 forces framework.

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Intensity of rivalry

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Intensity of rivalry

Sources on Porter’s Intensity of Rivalry

Harrison, Jeffrey S., Michael A. Hitt, Robert E. Hoskisson, R. Duane Ireland. (2008) “Competing for Advantage”, Thomson South-Western, United States, 2008.

Porter, M.E. (1979) “How competitive forces shape strategy”, Harvard Business Review, March/April 1979.

Porter, M.E. (1980) “Competitive Strategy”, The Free Press, New York, 1980.

Porter, M.E. (1985) “Competitive Advantage”, The Free Press, New York, 1985.

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