How to Make your Business Stronger

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From the cutish Goth material girl to a whimsical La Isla Bonita. Then to a sultry sex bomb and onward to a stately Eva Peron.  And when sex and song was no longer special, she embraced an unexpected religion.  Madonna, the poster girl for reinvention and a fitting role model for many entrepreneurs.  The question you should ask yourself is how can you stay ahead of the pack by differentiating your business as the competition closes the gap. Behold some suggestions:

USP: The first and most obvious is one of the biggest business buzzwords, the Unique Selling Proposition. Most annoyingly entrepreneurs think they are special if they can offer good service (unquantifiable), lowest price (just until some Bangladeshi jack-in-the-box undercuts them) and a personal touch (really?).  You have to find something spectacular to set you apart.  Most powerful would be if you could state a bunch of things that makes your business stand out.  Start your sentence with “We are the only company in Port Elizabeth (the country/this block/the world) that …”  Now you are starting to sound unique.

You can differentiate your product: “This is the only computer in the world with a thermal sensor that switches on with the warmth of your hand.”

You can differentiate your company: “We are the only legal firm in South Africa that champions the rights of disabled men.”

You can differentiate by offering a combination of things that aren’t special on their own:  “We are the only second-hand car dealer in Pofadder that offers low mileage, no-cost registration, with a service plan, maintenance plan and finance, even for blacklisted clients.”

Specialise: The moment you can specialise, you are going places.  Ear, nose and throat specialists can charge higher fees because they specialise.  So too can your business if you can specialise. If your company specialises in double-glazed unbreakable see-through burglar bars, people and other companies will be forced to come to you when the demand for double-glazed unbreakable see-through burglar bars goes up.

Sell: Most entrepreneurs, once they earn enough money to sustain themselves, stop selling.  The three greatest secrets of selling are: Walk the trade, walk the trade and walk the trade.  And continue to do so, because most of your competitors will stop.  Steve Jobs never stopped selling his dream.  He was till the day he died his company’s most hardworking salesman.

High Barrier of Entry: If you do something that is easy to copy, and it works, people will soon imitate you.  Ensure you make it next to impossible for Tom, Dick and Harry to duplicate your business.  High capital expenditure will help, for instance, or if you are the only company that can grow moss on the tip of a hamster’s tail.  Or the sole importer of Kuwaiti truffle.  Or the patent holder of the first thumb-print-activated toaster.

Systems and Processes: Set up or alter your business so it is easy to teach employees to do it.  This will enable you to open another branch or sell a franchise in other towns and countries.  Put systems and processes in place so your fabulous business is scalable and replicable (not by others, but by you).  If you scale your business you can become huge.  And if it easy for your employees to do, you can spend time dreaming up new ways for continued reinvention.

Reasons to believe: Give your customers many reasons to believe in you.  Like a lawyer, you should prove beyond reasonable doubt that your business is the best. 

  • Have your business been trading for a long time?
  • Do you as an entrepreneur have lots of experience in the field or special qualifications?
  • Does your business have special machinery, unique software or distinctive hardware?
  • Do you have strong partners or associations?
  • Does your business do charity projects in your community or for the environment?
  • Do you have flagship projects or important repeat clients?
  • Have you received special awards?
  • Are you ISO registered?

So get into the groove and reinvent yourself to become true blue.  Keep your clients crazy for you and don’t become a beautiful stranger that ends up saying that this used to be my playground.