Position Your Business or Get Beat Up

In high school, I had a big mouth. I know, big surprise. I had a buddy who struggled with anger management. Things got volatile between us, especially since we both liked the same girl. While he was taller, bigger, and a better athlete, I was funnier, more affable, and socially engaging. This made for a tense dynamic in our group.

One day, a trivial conflict over a library seat turned into a showdown. He claimed it was his seat, I insisted it was mine. A pushing contest ensued, ending with a right hook from him that demonstrated his athletic prowess and my ill-preparedness. The fight was broken up, but I, in my defiance, challenged him to meet me at the baseball diamond to settle things—a place in our town known for resolving disputes.

When I arrived, he had about 100 people with him. I was alone. He was better, stronger, faster, and taller, and had the crowd on his side. Yet, I showed up, driven by my ego and a sense of righteousness, ready to fight a battle I couldn’t win.

The Reality of Conflict

In retrospect, he wasn’t my competitor. The girl wasn’t interested in me; she wasn’t into comedic types. He was a friend, and I had created a conflict where none was needed. I had let him pick the time, place, and circumstances of the fight without bringing any supporters or even considering if it was a fight worth having.

I took a beating. Sure, I got in some shots, but my perseverance was more annoying than effective. Why share this painful memory? Because it’s a metaphor for how many companies approach the market. They think they know their competition and have a solid strategy, but they often go into battles alone, without support or a clear understanding of the landscape.

Lessons for Business Strategy

Creating a compelling go-to-market strategy is like preparing for a fight. It requires understanding who you are willing to fight for, who your allies are, where you are willing to fight, and who you are bringing to support you. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Know Your Competitors: Understand their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t underestimate them as I did with my friend. Recognize their capabilities and be prepared.
  2. Build Your Support Network: Don’t go into battles alone. Bring your team, allies, and supporters. Their presence can significantly impact the outcome.
  3. Choose Your Battles Wisely: Not every conflict is worth engaging in. Assess whether the fight is necessary and beneficial for your business.
  4. Understand Your Value Proposition: Be clear about what makes you different and valuable. Ensure your strategy aligns with this.
  5. Be Prepared to Adapt: The market is dynamic. Be ready to pivot and adapt your strategy as needed.


I still carry the physical scar from that fight, a reminder of my youthful defiance and lack of strategy. In business, the scars may not be physical, but the lessons are just as profound. Showing up alone, without a clear plan or support, can lead to unnecessary conflict and defeat.

Position your business wisely. Know your competition, build your support network, and choose your battles. By doing so, you’ll be better prepared to face the challenges of the market and emerge victorious.

Let’s ensure we’re not just showing up but showing up prepared, supported, and strategic. In the competitive world of business, it’s the only way to avoid getting beat up.

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