Which of These Four Critical Business Success Factors Matters Most?

Last quarter’s results for the global smartphone industry showed dominant Apple, buoyed by two new iPhone 6 models, taking 93% of the industry’s profits and Samsung, 9%. That’s 102%! Does this mean that taken together Nokia, Blackberry, HTC, Lenovo/Motorola and whomever else reported a financial loss?

These are well-known global companies where massive marketing/brand building spend did not result in commercial success. Doubtless you can think of examples closer to home. Come to think of it, what makes a company successful in the long run?

Research suggests that there are four critical factors for success in business:

  1. An excellent core product or service, and all the associated R & D which closely matches the wants of the organisation’s target segments. What this is showing is that companies with average products deserve average success.
  2. Excellent, world-class, state of the art operations. What this is saying is that inefficiency is likely to be punished by the market.
  3. A culture that encourages and produces an infrastructure within which employees can be creative and entrepreneurial within prescribed company procedures. Bored and boring people for whom subservience is the norm cause average and below-average performance.
  4. Professional marketing departments, staffed by qualified professionals (not failures from other functions). This means that companies who recruit professionally qualified marketers with appropriate experience have a greater chance of success that those whose marketing departments are staffed by just about anybody that fancies themselves as marketers.

But the great game of business is not a precise science with exact formulae. It’s a game with trial, error, and speculation. And as the saying goes, “The best players are the spectators, for they never make a mistake.” So here’s a question for both players and spectators: “Of the four critical success factors outlined above, which do you consider most important?”

Herman D. Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management.


Business Insider (February 9, 2015) ‘Apple is Taking 93% of the Profits in the Smartphone Industry Now.’

V. Wong and J. Saunders (1993) ‘Business Orientations and Corporate Success’.

Malcolm McDonald (2007) ‘Marketing Plans, How to Prepare Them, How to Use Them.’


2 thoughts on “Which of These Four Critical Business Success Factors Matters Most?

  1. Your articles always get me thinking…

    All four of these are subjective – who determined excellence and by what criteria are we judging qualifications? There can be no one standard across the board because even businesses within the same industry have different targets and USPs and strategies. And even more importantly, business success is defined differently by various businesses, based on their own goals. The most successful in terms of bottom line, however, will be the one with the best marketing dept. Better brand recognition and brand equity will trump having better internal processes any day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alvaranga Consulting says:

      Thank you, Stacy-Ann, for your very insightful comments. As a marketing strategist, and given my recent post on the emerging importance of strategic marketing management I am sure you know where my heart lies.

      Liked by 2 people

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