On performance vs the market

There’s an important distinction between the performance of a business ‘relative to its market’ and the performance of that market itself. I recall a time in a challenging industry when I felt pretty good about delivering -6% growth because the wider industry was at -10%. We’d over-delivered the wider market and taken share from our competitors. Of course, regardless of the thrill of winning share, -6% will kill you in the end. Conversely, I found myself analysing a business the other day which is delivering +2% growth, but in a market which is growing at more than 10%. That business will be fine, I guess, but represents a missed opportunity too. There is one of those consultancy 2 x 2 matrices in here, isn’t there?  If you are under-performing in a bad market, you are certainly in trouble. If you are over-performing but also in a bad market, you might feel like you are doing all you can but the structural trend in the market can still undo you. Can you redefine your market? If you are under-performing a strong market, shareholders might be happy for a while but in the end strong competitors will come for you. Over-performing a strong market – beers are on you!
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