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What if your people are your competitive advantage?

Every business needs to sustain its competitive advantage to survive. For some, it’s designing a superior product. For others, it’s the ability to manage costs or provide superior service. Or maybe it’s all three.

But, what if your competitive advantage is your people?

For many small businesses, especially technology businesses, that’s the case.

So, what do you do? How do you make sure you won’t wake up to a key person or two giving notice? After all, salaries for senior technology project leaders have gone up over 60% in the last year or so.

Certainly, you have to keep pace with the market. However, money only engenders loyalty until a bigger paycheck comes along.

The need to define your mission or purpose, to create a healthy culture and to exhibit great leadership skills has been well covered elsewhere. Let’s assume you’re already doing those things right or working hard to make progress. What else might you do?

Nearly every business owner I know says they are concerned for the welfare of their people. They care about their families and personal concerns in addition to their professional development. So, why not formalize that concern?

Suppose you sat down with each of your employees (or key employees in a larger firm) to review their life plan with them.

What if your CFO’s husband is planning to retire and move to Florida next year. Wouldn’t you rather know it now and plan for it?

Perhaps a young member of your team wants to pursue a Ph.D. and a university career. How can you help him or her achieve that goal?

Suppose your most talented systems analyst has a child with special needs? Can you help with educational programs? What about a flexible schedule?


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Sit with each team member annually to help develop his or her life plan. Find ways to support it. That will reap benefits for your company that would be hard for the competition to beat.

Good idea?

How would you ever find the time?

Here’s an idea: eliminate the annual performance review, that relic of the WWII generation. Nobody would miss it… especially you!

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