Face it, most founders aren’t doing anything new or unique in their business.
And that’s okay as long as you continue to provide your customers and clients with value in some unique way. This will set you apart from your competition and keep your customers and clients loyal to you. We live in a world of instant global communication, having a new idea or something unique is very rare.
So, what that means for most business owners is that you are going to have strong competition that’s been in the game for a long time before you even got started. Some of these competitors may have even been in the business long before you even thought about entering the race.
So how do we set ourselves apart from these apparent titans and differentiate ourselves and stand out in that crowd? I’m going to give you five tips that will help you do that.
Understand who you are. One of the best and earliest things I learned in business was that I actually have no competition. Others may do what I do, but they are not me and I am not them. They don’t do it the way I do. They don’t have my experience, and my uniqueness. They don’t have my history or my personality. You are the same way. You bring your own history and experiences, your own education and your own personality. No one will do it the same way you do it. That one understanding alone makes you incredibly unique and sets you apart from everyone else in your industry.
Change the rules. Now is the time to be innovative and outthink your competition. Switch things up anyway you can. If you want to capture contracts from big players, take a look at restructuring payment plans. Find out what your competition is doing and pick something and do it differently. Structure it in a way that is going to be beneficial to your customers and clients and they will come running to you. Think about how you can make your customers lives easier than if they work with your competition.
Work your credit. These days banks are not concerned with small business the way they used to be. If they can’t lend you multiple six figures or more, it’s hard to get their attention. There is no banking relationship with all of the online banking that is done today. I remember years ago I had such a fantastic relationship with my bank that if I forgot to make a deposit, they would call me in person, and remind me. That does not happen today and never will happen again. But you can still get loans from banks and even big banks because they have an obligation under federal law. The community reinvestment act requires that they continue to reinvest in the community through small business lending. I’m including a link to that information here.
Connect. No matter what the business, or how big or small they are, how successful they are, they did not get there on their own. They had a strong network around them and within them. A small business needs the same thing to be successful. Make connections with other successful entrepreneurs. Find people who are smarter than you, have done what you want to do, or are just generally highly successful in their own lives. Hang out with these people. Understand these people. Ask them for your help. Because they didn’t get there on their own, they know the value of helping others succeed. If you ask them they will help you. They could be a mentor, a guide, or just a friend who sometimes you could pick their brain. And I guarantee, they will always say yes when asked. It is their way of paying it forward. And remember, you become the five people you hang out with the most. So, make sure these people are successful, positive, encouraging, and the type of person you want to be or hang around with.
Provide outstanding service. I have to say, I’ve noticed over the past few decades that customer service has become a challenge. I have walked out of stores because the customer service was not what I felt it should be. I have left the product on the counter and just walked out. I have stopped working with coaches because their customer service was not what I was paying for. If you can think out-of-the-box and create the next outstanding customer service program or transaction, you will attract and retain customers and clients that will stay with you. If you have sales staff, or administrative staff that interacts with your customers and clients, make sure they are in on the same program. The young lady that answers your phone, is she upbeat, is she happy, is she knowledgeable, does she make the person calling in feel confident in your company’s abilities or is she a Debbie downer? Does she sound like you’re interrupting her or wasting her time? Are your salespeople building relationships or are they practicing the hit-and-run sales technique? Where are they get your attention give you their pitch and when you say not now you never hear from them again. Are you nurturing your clients? Are you checking in with them and their needs on a regular basis? What is your on boarding process? Are they informed and understand your process? These are questions that should be asked if your solopreneur, a mom-and-pop or running a company with 50 employees making multiple seven figures. It’s the same questions and if you can nail this and provide outstanding service, again; customers for life.
Ultimately, to win the race and compete with everyone else in your industry, you have to be resourceful, think out-of-the-box, and be innovative. Don’t be afraid to do things differently, shake things up. You may not be the big brands, but you certainly can carve out your own little share. https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/cra_about.htm
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