This insight came from Mark Suster’s colleague Ameet Shah, a co-worker at Andersen Consulting in the late 90’s. Andersen Consulting was the largest independent consulting firm at the time, but amid scores of existing competitors and newly-funded Internet consulting startups…
…the market seemed crowded and our leadership position that had been built over many years seemed to not matter any more…[But] Ameet said to me, “Ah, I’ve seen this many times before. See, Mark, in a booming market you can never tell the winners from the losers. In a booming market buyers aren’t very discerning and companies that have weaknesses can mask them…Andersen Consulting always gains market share in down markets. That’s where the companies who are [only] good at marketing tend to crumble…Don’t worry, we’ll be fine, just wait for the next downturn.” That had never occurred to me. In other words, in a strong market, even turkeys can fly. (emphasis added)
A company that works to “gain market share in down markets” and seizes “the next downturn” as an opportunity is most certainly the opposite of a “flying turkey” business. I’d call it a “crow” business, referencing the amazing adaptability and intelligence of crows, as I have blogged previously.
I also suggest reading Jeffrey Fox’s book, How to be a Fierce Competitor: What Winning Companies and Great Managers Do in Tough Times – a great user’s guide on how to become a “crow” business.
Read on for a review of this great book along with more insights from Mark Suster’s great blog post.