The Competitive Advantage of Showing Up

Successful business leaders consistently choose the right ways to invest their time and energy. They leverage their strengths and align their teams to work fluidly within their line of business. In addition to having the best designer or product, or performing the best services, there are still supplemental habits that will set a team ahead of their competition. One such practice cited frequently by satisfied clients and effective businesses is that of showing up.


Showing up means arriving at the job site consistently to perform the work. It means being available to the client to answer questions and communicate through the process. It also means being humble and genuine, owning when you have missed your deadline, and making amends when necessary.

One might attribute their successes to advanced training or their team’s proficiency. New arrivals to the market (whether individuals or teams) sometimes suffer from hubris or entitlement by failing to parse critical business practices from non-essentials. The stories we hear regularly convey the same truth; that, rather than needing to be the most skilled craftsperson, or having a terrific training pedigree, business experience, or client portfolio, a more critical element to yielding successful business results is the manner in which you perform your work. Ie, showing up.

This certainly isn’t to say that job performance, pricing, communication, and problem solving aren’t essential skills on their own. Nor is it to say that a business will secure every client they engage. But, where a business might place the majority of their success and corresponding energy onto their product or service, placing value on showing up time and again will set a team ahead of the majority of their competition.

Maybe 25—40% of one’s expertise in their service, trade, or product will secure clients regardless of their auxiliary business practices. However, the feedback from our clients, and the response from colleagues and friends in their respective industries is that whatever the cultural and market inputs affecting work performed today, there remains an inconsistency between quality of work, and the manner in which work is done.

In Making Ideas Happen, Scott Bellsky shares a story about an incredibly talented furniture maker from Croatia who is gifted with phenomenal vision and craftsmanship. Various clients reported, however, that though they love his work and eagerly covet his products, his lack of timely delivery and “followthrough is the real problem.” It wasn’t his failure of skill, but his failure in serving the client well, that did him in.

 Courtesy flickr user cwwycoff1

Courtesy flickr user cwwycoff1

There are as many stories as there are businesses in the market. Several times clients have detailed the scope of their work and secured a contractor or company to complete it, only to begin the project and have no workers present. In other cases the majority of a job had been performed, but the contractor didn’t return to complete the work, nor to receive payment for work already begun! Others reported having hired out work but receiving nothing from the contractor after months had passed by. Lamentably, these stories aren’t merely from the creative-services sector where Bold Hive operates. They are derived from the Financial Sector to Construction fields, from Medicine to Faith-based work, and from small businesses to large national operations.

If this comes across as over-simplified, it is understandable. If this comes across as “One Easy Step to Out-Sell Your Competition,” don’t receive it so. The principle that we hope you’ll consider (and expect many of you have already) is that within the plethora of business success stories, seminars, and strategies, the axioms we most need to remember too often get pushed out of focus. While our team has a passion for fresh appeal and increasing productivity using streamlined tools and systems, we are also a team that understands that simple ideas don’t mean outdated thinking, nor do sexy trends guarantee success. In an increasingly hyperactive culture reinforced by increasingly hyperactive markets and media, the quality of your work and the clarity of your communication will be best reinforced and delivered to your customer as you show up and get the job done.

Have you found this to be true in your business? Let us know what practices or values have won and retained your clients!