To have a competitive advantage in the market place, you need to be unique….but that is not enough. You also need to be desirable in the eye of the customer. it is the combination of being uniquely desirable that sets you apart, and allows you to build a profitable enterprise.
But it is difficult to be unique, because so many companies can do what you do. You can’t be unique on price, and it is hard to be unique on product. So much of what we do is copyable.
In my experience, there are 4 ways you can be truly unique, and as a company you need to focus on building these up over time.
1. Better people. it takes patience, dedication and a good eye for talent to find great people. IN fact it takes real courage to continually hire better people, and not put up with mediocrity. As I tell my clients, its hard to overpay for great people, because the right people will help you develop and implement the best “processes” that you can use to scale your business. Moreover, they will be more accountable, take initiative, and help you develop a winning culture. As CEO, you have to drive this every week. How does the level of your staff compare to that of your competitors down the street?
2. A strong culture. With the right people in place, you can create a truly unique culture…but doing so takes a steady commitment to a unique set of values. You have to be willing to hire, fire and promote your people who best fit your values (and not put up with outliers.) Building a strong culture means running all your decisions, even in the fast pace of Spring, through a filter comprised of your values. Those leaders who do this consistently are rewarded with a strong over time.
It is said that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. I like to say that having a strong culture will eat your competitors for breakfast…and lunch! How strong is yours?
3. A desirable brand. A desirable brand is made up of more than your visual branding (colors, logo, treatment.) It is the combination of how your people interact with your customers at every step, from first call to last check. A desirable brand is is built on customer facing processes that provide an easy sales process and excellent customer service. Ultimately, your brand is based on your promise to the market place and how your fulfill it. If I queried your top 10 clients, what would they say about your brand? Do you even know?
4. Relationships are inherenly unique. When you build a strong relationship with a client or influencer, no one can take that away from you, and you can build an entire business on that. But it is difficult to transfer those relationships, and to sell them when you sell your business. As the books says, what got you here won’t get you there. So, continue to build relationships, but don’t base your entire business on this, or else you will be stuck.
These traits, especially the first three, are the foundations of building a salable and highly valuable business. To learn more about this, read the very unique biography “Uncontained” on how Tip Kindell built and sold the super successful Container Store.