Win-Win Approach: How Joining Competitions Sharpen Your Business Acumen

Leaders who acknowledge and understand every aspect of their business, make better decisions and make organizational success happen. This is how business acumen comes into action.

Before you can develop strong business acumen, you need to properly understand what it means. According to Acumen Learning, business acumen is the “keen, fundamental, street-smart insight into how your business operates and how it makes money and sustains profitable growth, now and in the future.”

It describes the knowledge of how your company makes money and how the company’s standard operating procedures change in certain situations.

Simply put, business acumen is the “force” that helps entrepreneurs make important decisions about the future growth of their companies. It makes managers see the big picture and operate their departments more efficiently. As for salespeople, it allows them to understand their customers’ preferences and the difficulties they face. It’s no surprise why this skill set represents a top priority and corporate advantage to businesses that perform and implement it.

The key to obtaining powerful business acumen is through learning, experience, and pushing your boundaries. You want to understand as much about your operations, but also other facets of the business world in general. You need reliable people skills to guarantee you don’t execute strategies purely by gaining financial gain but also by considering the impact to the future operations of the company. Then you need to keep improving these by continuously training your mind to “beat something”. This is where joining competitions give you that extra edge.

Take it from Paul Halme, who is an MMA Champion and a business consultant. He demonstrates how being involved in competitions, may it be in a sport or a hobby, helps develop values to live by that can be explicitly used in business for growth and constant development.

Paul Halme, on-stage.
Paul Halme, an MMA Champion and a business consultant.

“I am obsessed with the discipline and the continuous opportunities to surprise myself,” he shares. Even though he doesn’t always win everything he joins, he makes sure he trains with the clear intention to win it, every single time. And it has helped him well with business.

Whether you are a startup company or already established, you can benefit from joining the right competitions. Here are three reasons we listed how joining competitions can sharpen your business acumen.

1. Joining Competitions Can Help You Identify Industry Trends

As Firas Kittaneh writes, “Successful entrepreneurs thrive under competitive pressures. Instead of viewing competition as an obstacle, they see it as an opportunity.” Healthy rivalry provides challenges to help you become smarter and adaptive with resources or conditions you have.

Businesses have a different approach on how they respond to industry trends. Discovering new growth opportunities as they develop is the key to securing a competitive advantage in fast-expanding markets. When you join a competition, you will have an inside knowledge of how other companies whether the same or different niche adapts to market trends.

People are unpredictable like your market, even when you’ve managed to figure out a certain trend based on thorough observations and experience they can still manage to surprise. Your business acumen gets acclimated to the changes.

2. Gain Visibility For Your Brand and Expand Your Network

Business awards can produce meaningful publicity beyond local and national press and social media. With the award process running across several weeks, or even months, imagine the endless, PR possibilities that come with making it to the top list, or even winning: your business will be in the spotlight for all the right reasons.

You can increase respect from your existing client base when you take advantage of this exposure, more so promoting your business to new or potential customers.

Joining a competition for your business will open doors to getting new contracts, gaining new supply channels, and breaking into new markets. Positive feedback from the critics can be used in press releases, you can add the award logo to your marketing materials and website. Whether you are a finalist or the winner, this kind of exposure shouldn’t be missed.

More importantly, you can learn more inputs from experts who have critiqued your business. When you combine all of this, you have the chance to improve your product or service. This becomes another point to your business acumen.

3. You Will Have A Better Understanding of Your Business Model

Your business model is not perfect right away. It takes time before you can pinpoint the areas you need to improve. It takes experience and exposure to various business practices.

The entire process can make you look at your business from a different point of view. With all the businesses around you in the same competition, you’ll have the drive to make sure that you are distinct among the rest. Whether your business is more innovative, diverse, and strategic, everything will be tested and scrutinized.

Winning an award or being part of the top list adds value to the output being done in your business. It’s valuable indication you’re moving in the right direction and have the right attitude to go to the next level.

What if you didn’t win?

Consider what you could be doing better and identify how to do this. Gaining experience and knowledge about other businesses is more worthwhile than winning the award itself.

Honing your business acumen is not an overnight event. It involves time, education, practice, and hands-on application. The learning never stops, it goes on every single day of your operations. Your effort and hard work are rewarded when you see the results materialize in your own company and employees.

What competition do you have in mind right now?