How to Discover Your Unique Advantage in Business
As Chief Design Officer of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara Austin works with small business entrepreneurs to capture the heart and soul of their brand, using a sweet combination of integrity, creativity, and thoughtfulness to reach their target audience through great design. Photo credits: Adwriter (lemonade stand) and zigaszou76 (cupcakes).
Back in the lemonade-selling days of childhood, I assumed that selling a good product, or providing a good service, was the only thing necessary for a business to be successful.
It wasn’t until I opened a real business of my own that I realized thousands of others were doing the same thing I was, and that offering “good” just wasn’t going to cut it.
I had to learn to stand out from the crowd.
The funny thing is, I’ve always considered myself to be exceptionally unique. I don’t fit many stereotypes, and I regularly defy expectations. So you’d think that it would be easy for me to be unique as an entrepreneur, right?
Not so much. Chalk it up to my naive state of mind when I first launched my business, but it took me a while to figure that one out.
How did I do it? And how can you, too, discover your uniqueness when you know you’re a one-of-a-kind person, but you can’t seem to translate that into a business advantage?
What you need is something that is no longer just a personality quirk or an unusual talent, but an asset that your customers’ value, and therefore DESPERATELY WANT. Thankfully, I’ve nailed it down to this two-step formula, which will help you unearth your own unique advantage:
1. Get past your “what” to find your “WHY”.
What you sell is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to building a successful business. In order to generate real loyalty, referrals, and buzz about your company, people must identify with your WHY. That is, your purpose in opening your business in the first place – your belief that people’s lives will be better/happier/easier because of what you have to offer.
To get an idea of what I mean, imagine that you’re walking down a street that has two cupcake bakeries side-by-side, and you’re in the mood for a sweet treat. Which one would you choose: shop A which says “We have tasty cupcakes!”, or shop B which says “We love cupcakes, and we share that love with 29 delicious cake varieties and 10 delectable frostings to choose from, so you too can experience cupcake-eating bliss!”
I don’t know about you, but I’d go for shop B in a heartbeat.
2. Go beyond your “why” to identify your “HOW”.
What underlying belief or passion is YOUR business built on? In addition to your purpose, the way you do business is also an important factor in your uniqueness. No other company provides services, manufactures products, or invents new techniques, quite like yours does.
So HOW do you do things differently? It could be your level of customer service, the way you design or build products, the materials you use in making those products, the people you employ, or even a special cause that you donate some of your revenue to.
Say, for instance, that you offer wellness coaching, and that the majority of your clients are wellness-challenged. You already cater to those people with a “wellness for recovering couch potatoes” approach, so why not market yourself as such?
The key here is to identify what you’re already doing differently (maybe you don’t even realize it!), and to use that difference to your advantage.
To Sum It All Up …
Your prospects may be looking for the products or services you offer, but what they really want is a company that shares their values, and conducts business in a way that they can appreciate (like how everybody LOVES a company that has fluent-in-English, knowledgeable people answering their customer service calls, because all they really want is to talk to a human being who can quickly and easily resolve their concerns).
So, really dig deep, think about your WHY and your HOW, and apply them to some big overall questions like “What makes my business SO memorable that people can’t possibly get it out of their head?” and my personal favorite, “What unexpected skill or trait do I have to offer, that my prospects would climb mountains to get their hands on?”
With self-discovery like this, you can go from just another business to THAT ONE-OF-A-KIND BUSINESS that people can’t get enough of. Trust me – I’ve been there!
What’s YOUR unique advantage? Let us know in the comments section below!